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Alabama’s Punitive Immigration Law Faces Strong Opposition From Business and Agriculture Groups

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Alabama Immigration Law HB 56Right in time for Halloween, Alabama has introduced an immigration monster that is literally scaring brown people from their homes while inflicting serious damage on the state’s economy, leaving crops to rot in the fields.

Last week, Federal Judge Sharon Blackburn upheld some of the most egregious sections of Alabama’s discriminatory immigration law, much to the dismay of business and agricultural groups. These groups are now pressuring state legislators to change the law.

The two industries facing the hardest hit will be agriculture and construction. Here’s more from Alabama.com:

“The two issues are the labor shortage and the burdensome red tape,” said Jay Reed of Associated Builders & Contractors. Reed also co-chairs a group called Alabama Employers for Immigration Reform.

“There was a big misconception that there were long lines formed by Alabamians who wanted these labor-intensive jobs,” Reed said.

A study issued in February by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, estimated that 95,000 unauthorized immigrants worked in Alabama in 2009 and 2010, making up about 4.2 percent of the labor force.

Johnny Adams of the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association said he hopes to talk to lawmakers about the unintended consequences of the law before they return to Montgomery for the 2012 legislative session.

“We are going to be talking with legislators throughout the state — and when I say we, I’m talking about basically the business community — about our concerns about the law, and when we get to (the legislative) session we will see where we stand,” Adams said. “But we would certainly like to see some changes made.”

The same article reports on the belligerence of legislators in the State.

“We will not weaken the law,” said Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur. “If we can give them some help in recruiting people for their industry, training people for their industry, we’ll be happy to do that.”


Those in the business know better:

For farmer Keith Smith, who has 200 acres of ripening sweet potatoes in his Cullman fields and no one to pick them, the new law boils down to a matter of finding anyone to do the work.

Smith normally hires about 20 pickers — mostly Hispanic immigrants — for the October harvest. On Thursday he could find only five workers…

Smith is not impressed with politicians who say he has been breaking the law by hiring illegal immigrants.

“That’s what they all say. But they don’t know what it’s like out here,” Smith said. “That is all we can get.”

Smith said he has four to six weeks to get his crops in before they rot. He said he has found a few American workers for his fields, but he complained they can’t keep up with his Hispanic crews.

“If you want to solve the immigration problem, quit eating,” Smith said.

That’s one “solution.” The other is for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. By now, it should be evident that legislation designed to intimidate undocumented immigrants actually ends up hurting everyone.