From NewAmericaMedia.org, La Opinión, Editorial, 26 Aug 2011.
Editors of La Opinión write that it is time for Alabama to understand that restrictive immigration state laws have serious side effects that hit everyone’s pocketbooks.
First, it happened in the state of Georgia. Now, it is time for Alabama to understand that restrictive immigration state laws have serious side effects that hit everyone’s pocketbooks.
The Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, believed to be the country’s toughest law of its kind, was supposed to, among other things, reduce the high unemployment rate. This has not been the case. Although the law led legal and illegal immigrants to leave the state, more than two months after its enactment, their jobs remain unfilled.
Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan is concerned about this, since the lack of workers is endangering the harvest of peanuts, tomatoes and squash. There have been reports of small farms giving up on planting because of uncertainty regarding the labor force.
The same is happening in the construction industry, which can’t find enough workers to rebuild towns damaged by the April tornadoes.
Once again, this situation debunks the arguments used in state legislatures as well as the House of Representatives, which claim that the unemployment issue can be solved by expelling undocumented immigrants in order for citizens to take over their jobs.
Alabama has an unemployment rate of almost 10%, while undocumented immigrants account for slightly less than 8% of the state’s workforce of 1.9 million. Immigrants are leaving and local unemployed people are not filling those jobs, impacting the state’s economy. The reality is as simple as that.
What is happening in Alabama, like in Georgia, shows that these states’ economies need the immigrant workforce. It also highlights the error of creating laws based on false and stereotyped perceptions, which have more to do with anti-immigrant sentiment than with common sense.
A comprehensive reform is the only path to resolving numerous issues related to immigration. The workforce and the economy are certainly some of them. If there is some doubt, Alabama’s situation proves the point.