In the couple months since Alabama passed HB 56, among the harshest immigration laws in the nation, they have: a) seen crops rot in the fields because farmers cannot find workers to pick the fruits and vegetables, which has cost the state potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue; b) threatened the water service of potential undocumented immigrants; c) forced charities to seek citizenship papers from their recipients, even though that provision and others have been blocked by multiple courts; d) witnessed frustrated employers speak out about the loss of legal Hispanic workers, who have left the state in droves; e) led to 15% of Hispanic students being afraid to attend school; f) arrested top executives of two automakers, Mercedes-Benz and Honda, who were in the state overseeing their plants there.
That last one has particularly stuck in the craw of the state’s leadership, who fear the carmakers moving out of state in revolt after having their executives arrested for not having their passports with them. The charges against both men were dismissed, but not before some serious embarrassment for the state.
And now, after some state lawmakers and the state Attorney General acknowledged that changes need to be made to the law to avoid what they called “unintended consequences” (actually, they were entirely intended from the premise of creating a immigration police state), Governor Robert Bentley agrees.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said on Friday he would work to revise the state’s tough new immigration law following embarrassing incidents of foreign workers being detained because they were not carrying sufficient identification.
Bentley, House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, said in a statement they do not plan to repeal or weaken the law, widely considered to be the toughest state immigration law in the nation.
“We recognize that changes are needed to ensure that Alabama has not only the nation’s most effective law, but one that is fair and just, promotes economic growth, preserves jobs for those in Alabama legally, and can be enforced effectively and without prejudice,” Bentley said.
Sadly, if it wasn’t for the auto executive arrests, the state leadership would still be in denial about it. The business community clearly told them to fix the law and fix it now. But as the economic consequences mount, this is likely to be a first step to either a de-fanging or just a straight repeal of the law. All it will take is one big business to leave the state and they’ll cave. I’ll bet these guys are begging for the courts to take it out of their hands by finding it unconstitutional, as the Justice Department has argued.
This does offer a window into life in Tea Party America. I hope all those corporate types remember what happened to their donations.