Alabama’s new immigration law has garnered recent criticism from one of young America’s most popular news sources, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert.
Alabama’s new immigration law, put into place on September 28, 2011, is considered to be “the strictest in the nation.” Alabama’s new “law requires police to check the immigration status of suspects and turn illegal immigrants over to federal authorities. It requires school officials to demand birth certificates from students enrolling for the first time, though the schools may not turn students away. It forbids illegal immigrants to engage in business transactions with state government” (LA Times-10/8/2011)
As Stephen Colbert learned last year, migrant labor is hard work. He worked as migrant worker for 1 day and testified before Congress on a hearing about passing a bill that would provide services to farmworkers. Commenting on Alabama’s law, Colbert harps about being afraid that he might not be able to eat his BLTs in the future because there will be no farmworkers to pick the tomatoes.
Tomato farmers in Alabama employ thousands of illegal immigrants to pick their crops, but with the passage of the new law, their crops are rotting waiting to be picked. Proponents of the law might say that this measure could help lower the unemployment numbers in Alabama. But as the tomato farmers attest to in the video and in the articles, nobody wants to do the work. Farmers have tried hiring locals but there aren’t nearly as many workers “ready to pull themselves up by their bootstraps”. According to one local business owner, “Some of them work out a little bit. Some might work three hours and they quit.” To quell the consequences of the new law, some business owners have resorted to using prison inmates to do their fieldwork, but that’s not going very well for them either.
Hopefully, the rest of the states and the federal government learn from the consequences of Alabama’s before enacting their own immigration reform policies. Stephen Colbert sums up America’s hypocrisy best: “to preserve our precious BLTs, we must do whatever it takes, other than offer these people any rights.”