Debating immigration: Alabama's new law, Obama's strategy

types of local laws, twenty states rejected them in 2011. State lawmakers are understandably frustrated by the inaction of immigration and have tried to step in and regulate immigration themselves. However, immigration is currently regulated by the federal government and should remain that way. That being said, there is a way to tackle immigration reform locally that helps your economy, labor force and local communities and there are ways to tackle it that jeopardize local business, institutions, workers and families. In the case of Alabama they have done the later.

HSNW: There have been anecdotal reports from Alabama employers, particularly in the agricultural sector, that they are struggling to find employees now that the new law has passed. Are there any statistics or past case studies to bolster the oft repeated claim that illegal immigrants perform the jobs that no one else cares to do?

MG: Since Alabama’s immigration law went into effect, there have been reportsof an exodus of immigrant and Latino workers from the state. While supporters cheer the exodus as a victory, many Alabama businesses say they are left without an adequate workforce. Despite assurances from Alabama’s Governor Bentley that U.S. citizens will take those jobs, farmers, meat processors, and housing contractors are finding that U.S. citizen or legal workers are either not willing or able to take those jobs—leaving fruit to rot on the vine and home reconstructions projects unfinished. Not only will this hurt Alabama business in the short term, as economists say, but it will shrink the state’s economy and productivity over time.
Alabama tomato farmer Jerry Spencer recruited more than fifty U.S. citizen workers, gave them free transportation and paid them to pick fruit and work the fields. Only a few worked for more than two or three days. One stayed for the entire two weeks. According to Spencer, “people weren’t in good enough physical condition to work harder or longer hours and typically gave up when faced with acre after acre of tomato plants ready to be picked.” Another farmer, Chad Smith, said his family’s farms stands to lose as much as $150,000 this season with no one to pick tomatoes.

The construction industry is also taking a hit. Jay Reed of the Alabama Associated Builders and Contractors said his group has tried to recruit local workers for years but that many of them just don’t want those jobs. Likewise, Bill Caton