The claims for implementing Alabama’s new immigration bill as part of “Job Creation” is a pathetically weak reason used to conceal some underlying racism in a very conservative and white part of the country. Or it sure seems that way to this Southerner
June 9: Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is flanked by Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, left, and Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, right, as he speaks before signing into law the states strict new immigration bill. (AP photo)
In what supporters claim is an effort to create jobs for citizens of Alabama, the Republican governor there has recently signed into law the toughest anti-immigration bill to date in the country. Apparently the five fold increase of “illegal immigrants” has alarmed some Alabamians because when they speak of illegal immigrants they’re talking about the low-income, uneducated Hispanic type. Eighty percent of illegal immigrants come from Mexico (60%) or other Latin American countries (20%) – SOURCE
According to data from a 2003 study by the Urban Institute Immigration Studies Program, about 29% of the America’s 17.9 million foreign-born workers in the United States are illegal or “undocumented”. They rank lowest in education and works skills than other foreign and domestic workers. Thus they are likely to fill positions that pay below the poverty level, work longer hours without overtime pay and have no health or pension benefits, like those on Alabama’s farms, chicken processing plants and in construction.
These illegal migrant workers work and live under atrocious conditions here by either staying in poor housing conditions provided by farmers or crowding into houses and apartments with other low-income illegals to afford rents while still having enough to send money back home. Working conditions are often unsanitary and life-threatening; working inside with very little air conditioning or out in the heat from sunrise to sunset. According to Urban Institute study “Immigrants’ hourly wages are lower on average than those for natives, and nearly half earn less than 200 percent of the minimum wage—versus one-third of native workers”
This means cost of goods and services are kept lower by hiring immigrant workers, especially illegals, as opposed to American workers doing the same job. Are the Alabama political leaders who support this immigration bill telling their citizens that by removing illegal workers and supplanting them with native workers that all Alabaimans will have to pay more for food that is already seeing rising prices? Or do these wealthy white men expect their native citizens to scratch out a living with these low wages, long hours and no health benefits that their illegal counterparts are willing to work for?
This isn’t job creation. It’s a smoke screen to conceal a dislike for brown people with an accent (if they are able to speak English at all) who are beginning to out-number whites and other ethnic groups. The latest census data reveals that Hispanics accounted for half the nations growth over the last decade. This all works to the advantage of businesses that need cheap labor to compete with 3rd world countries but it doesn’t expand the economy and puts poor families at risk who struggle to pay rents, food bills, send their kids to school and save for college and retirement.
Though people like GOP Sen. Scott Beason, believe that this bill “will put thousands of Alabamians back in the work force” it will clearly not alleviate dire conditions for those families who choose to do this kind of work. It will reduce the number on unemployment rolls in the state thus giving naive voters the impression that the GOP has been active in creating real job growth. But merchants will see no real effect from conditions where people have been out of work for months and years, living on meager
unemployment benefits they received. To pour salt into the wounds, as these poverty level jobs open up to poor Alabamians, social aid programs they rely on to assist them with health care and child nutrition are being cut by the state as a means of dealing with state budgets.
Illegal immigration is a serious issue in this country that we need to deal with intelligently and compassionately . But the actions displayed by Alabama’s Republican Party appear less concerned about finding genuine resolutions for this and real job growth than they are about keeping their white majorities at historic levels.