LatinaLista — A Sunday editorial cartoon in the Mobile Press-Register had the title “What can brown do for you?” It was in reference to the extremely harsh immigration law passed in Alabama to rid the state of undocumented immigrants. As of now, it stands as the most punitive law in the country.
The short blog post accompanying the cartoon ended with the sentence: Congratulations, Alabama. Even when we’re first we’re last.
Yet, the trouble with Alabama’s new immigration law is that it has the potential to make a lot more than just Alabama residents last.
Ever since the federal judge allowed the state to start enforcing parts of the law, Latino immigrants have been laying low.
News outlets have reported that children of undocumented immigrants are being kept home from school in record numbers. Over 2,000 Latino children didn’t show up for school on Monday.
Pregnant women are reported to be too afraid to go to the hospital and crime victims now don’t want to risk coming forward in fear of having the tables turned on them and they be labeled the criminal.
And then there’s the issue of the farm crops.
The majority of the agricultural workforce in Alabama, like elsewhere, are Latinos. Due to the law, farmers are reporting that both legal and undocumented immigrants aren’t showing up for work because of the new law.
As a result, farmers are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost crops. Recently, a group of Alabama farmers met with the state legislator who authored the bill and the politician declared he would make no changes to the law though the farmers told him they were losing their crops because they couldn’t find workers to replace the immigrants.
His response was to increase the wages and more people would show up.
One tomato farmer, by the name of Chad Smith, put it into perspective:
“It ain’t about the money, it’s about the work physically. If a person can’t do the work, they can’t do it no matter how much you pay them,” Smith said.
To say farmers are mad is an understatement. Today, a group traveled to Washington to speak to congressmen about how this law is not only jeopardizing their livelihoods but is threatening to damage the state’s economy.
And yet, these politicians wouldn’t change a thing.
It doesn’t matter to them that perfectly good food is rotting away. Or that food prices will go up for everyone as a result of this destruction which will impact the nation’s food supply.
If any new law should be enacted, it should be a law that jails shortsighted, bigoted politicians for endangering the nation’s food security because of an unhealthy hatred/fear of immigrants, who are powerless to defend themselves but have spent every working minute of their lives contributing to the economy of this country.