As AL Legislative Session Begins, Chorus of Voices Calls for Repeal of Costly “Failed Experiment”
As the Alabama state legislature begins its new legislative session today, the costs and consequences of the state’s “papers, please” anti-immigration law is the hottest political topic in the state. In light of the many controversies and unintended consequences related to the law’s provisions, including the sticker shock of up to $11 billion the law would cost the state’s GDP, changes to the immigration law are likely during the legislative session. While some of the law’s original backers are calling for minor tweaks to the law, a chorus of voices is highlighting the costs and consequences of the law and making a strong case for its wholesale repeal:
- Editorial in Mobile’s Press-Register Highlights Role of Kris Kobach in Law Debacle: The editorial in the Press-Register, entitled “Alabama Paying for Failed Experiment,” highlights the role of the law’s architect, Kansas Secretary of State and Mitt Romney immigration advisor Kris Kobach (R), in shaping the costly and unworkable law: “Alabama allowed itself to be used as a guinea pig on illegal immigration so that a Kansas lawyer could build his political career. The unintended consequences of the new law, proclaimed as the nation’s toughest, are legion: It has embarrassed the governor, discouraged industry, scared legal immigrants and, according to a recent report, been a drag on the state economy it was supposed to help… Meanwhile, the immigration law has been a serious distraction for a state that has too many problems to solve — a budget shortfall, low test scores and high poverty — to shoulder a national issue like immigration. And why Alabama, anyway, where immigrants make up a very small percent of the population? Maybe because we said yes. In return, what have we gotten for playing the guinea pig? Crops rotting in the field, a net loss to the economy, higher racial tensions and a PR black eye, to boot. Does any of this matter to an up-and-coming politician in Kansas? Sure doesn’t sound like it. Anyway, it’s just part of Mr. Kobach’s Alabama experiment.”
- Call for Foreign Auto Makers to Join the Effort for a Full Repeal of the Law: Foreign automakers have already felt firsthand the consequences of the anti-immigrant law, as a legal German executive from Mercedes-Benz and a legal Japanese plant worker for Honda were each taken into custody under provisions of the law. Many business voices have expressed frustration with how the law has damaged the state’s reputation as a “new” Alabama, and has dragged the state back to its older, intolerant roots – and scared away business in the process. Now, a number of leading national civil rights, human rights and worker rights organizations including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Council of La Raza, NAACP, Service Employees International Union, United Auto Workers and Southern Poverty Law Center are calling on the three major foreign car companies with manufacturing plants in Alabama to join the full repeal effort. Said Wade Henderson, the President of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, “The truth is, there is no fix for (the law)…The only option that makes any sense — and the only option that will help Alabama restore its reputation in the U.S. and with the international business community — is for the Legislature to approve a complete repeal of this obnoxious law.”
- Protestor Against Law Tells NPR, “You Can’t Tweak Hate”: A story in National Public Radio (NPR) highlights organizing that is happening locally to push back on the law, and the effort by some lawmakers to tweak the bill. William Anderson, a University of Alabama at Birmingham student, had the best response: “Everybody that voted for HB 56 should be ashamed of themselves…They should all be pushing for full repeal, not tweaking anything – you can’t tweak hate.”
In addition to these voices, the cost-benefit analysis of Alabama’s “papers, please” anti-immigration law from University of Alabama economist Dr. Samuel Addy is still making waves. Dr. Addy, the director of the University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, estimated that implementation of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law would shrink the state’s GDP by “possibly as much as $10.8 billion.” Dr. Addy concluded that “Instead of boosting state economic growth, the law is certain to be a drag on economic development even without considering costs associated with its implementation and enforcement…While the law’s costs are certain and some are large, it is not clear that the benefits will be realized.”
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