Newsletter October 2011 – Something Smells Rotten in Alabama

1143906383IN THIS ISSUE
California Dreamin’Reminder: 2013 Green Card Lottery About to End
USCIS Announces “Entrepreneurs in Residence” Initiative
National Hispanic Heritage Month
The Faces of US Immigrants: Yo-Yo Ma, A Cellist with the Bow of an Angel
Recipes From The Melting Pot: Mediterranean Zucchini Fritters, A Grecian Dish
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Something Smells Rotten in Alabama

When Alabama’s immigration law, SB 1070, went into effect in September 2011, at least two dramatic things happened: Alabama schools saw a dramatic drop in Latino children attending and the state’s farmers had no workers available to pick their crops. Under this new legislation, schools are required to check the immigration status of newly enrolled students. In addition, the new law also allows police, during a traffic stop, to ask for documentation to prove US Citizenship or legal immigration status of anyone they suspect of being here illegally. I don’t know about you, but not many people I know carry proof of their immigration status. That is why many consider such laws an infringement on people’s rights because they have the capacity of increasing profiling, especially of Hispanic or Hispanic-looking people. In a recent article by Chris Parsons, it was reported that a large number of “legal Hispanic workers are leaving Alabama because family members and friends don’t have the correct paperwork and they fear they could be jailed.” Alabama farmers are worried, as their crops begin to rot, that they won’t be able to recover from their economic losses. Most Hispanic workers, even those that are documented, U.S. citizens or legal migrant workers, are not showing up to work in fear that they maybe targeted by this new law. Many of these workers are fleeing to Tennessee or Washington, while those who are staying are “trying not to go out as much.” Republican Sen. Scott Beason, one of the legislators who crafted the bill, continues to defend it as a job creation bill. Alabama has close to a 10% unemployment rate but many economic experts believe that this bill will have the opposite effect in that it will hurt Alabama’s economy, specifically agricultural and commercial construction businesses. Very recently, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a blow to Alabama’s immigration law, siding with the Obama administration, blocking public schools from checking the immigration status of students. The decision also said police can’t charge immigrants who are unable to prove their citizenship. The decision is only temporary and a final ruling won’t be expected for months. But as with the immigration laws adapted by states like Arizona and Georgia, Alabama’s SB 1070 will prove to have a negative effect on their economy. In turn, as produce is not be picked and allowed to rot, we will all pay at the end because of rising food prices.

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