What’s happening in Alabama after the implementation of their Arizona-style immigration law has been described to me by people on the ground as heartbreaking. Children have been held out of school, families are picking up and leaving, produce is rotting in the fields, because of fear for deportation by productive workers and, in some cases, legal immigrants who happen to be Hispanic. Yesterday, immigrants participated in a one-day boycott to protest the new law.
Along Main Street in this small Alabama town, the Mexican restaurant was closed, lights were out at a Hispanic-owned grocery store and even a bank catering to Spanish speakers was dark. Nearby, the usual hum of a chicken processing plant was silent […]
The work stoppage appeared largest in northeast Alabama, the hub of the state’s $2.7 billion poultry industry, but metropolitan areas were also affected. At least a half-dozen chicken processing plants closed or scaled back operations because employees, many of whom are Hispanic, didn’t show up for work or told managers in advance they wanted to join the sick-out to show disapproval of the law upheld by a federal judge two weeks ago.
“We want the mayor, the governor, this judge to know we are part of the economy of Alabama,” said Mexican immigrant Mireya Bonilla, who manages the supermarket La Orquidea, or “The Orchid,” in Albertville.
Businesses re-opened and many children went back to school today, so it’s unclear what impact that one-day walkout will have. Even areas of the law that were thrown out by a federal judge, like the provision that would have made the transport or housing of an undocumented immigrant illegal, are being flouted on the ground. A religious charity in Decatur, Alabama, is asking for citizenship papers from those who request their help. [cont’d.]
Similarly, school administrators, local businesses and practically everyone at risk of violating the new law have taken a cautious approach, erring on the side of denying services to anyone suspected of being undocumented in Alabama. One public provider of water service has threatened to shut off water to any house where undocumented individuals are residents. Fear is in the air and families are scrambling to upend their entire lives. This includes legal workers who don’t want to deal with the hassle, the unwelcome attitude and the threat of deportation if they simply forget to carry their ID with them at all times.
Only thing is, (Wayne Farms chicken processing plant spokesman Frank) Singleton and other employers say, it also is driving out legal immigrants, and adversely impacting business and as well as communities.
“When you create an environment where one segment of the workforce feels stigmatized, at the end of the day it’s not good for employes, and it’s not good for the community,” Singleton said. “It causes a shrinkage in labor and affects our ability to fulfill [business] demands.” […]
Some community leaders in Alabama say that many families are “mixed status,” they include people who are U.S.-born, or legal permanent residents, but also relatives who are undocumented. Legal immigrants may be leaving, they have said, out of concern that their undocumented relatives may end up arrested and deported.
Others, such as Singleton, says it’s because of the hostile environment many Latinos say is pervading Alabama.
“Sociologically, the Latino community acts as an extended family,” he said. “People feel stigmatized” regardless of their status.
That article was from the Fox News website, incidentally.
This chaos has been brought to you by the pro-family wing of the conservative movement.