What They’re Saying: Alabama Immigration Law Has Dire Economic Implications

The new Alabama immigration law is causing thousands of Latinos—both documented and undocumented—to flee the state. Here’s a roundup of the repercussions to business, agriculture, the schools, the clergy and the state’s society.

CREATISTA / Shutterstock.com

What would you do if you were suddenly told that your ability to work, send your children to school, enter into any contracts, and travel around your community now means constant fear of deportation and imprisonment? You’d do what thousands of Latinos in Alabama have been doing since last week’s ruling in Alabama—you’d get out of there as fast as you could.

Whether they reside in Alabama legally or not, Latinos are fleeing the state in droves, understandably terrified of living in a state where teachers and employers must now collect information on the status of immigrants and where police are instructed to pull people over if they suspect they are here illegally. The economic ramifications to Alabama—and to other states that may follow suit—are severe. Already, as the stories listed here point out, employers don’t have enough people to do the necessary work, prompting factories and farms to slow down or consider shutting down; restaurants and stores are empty, and public schools will have to consider laying off staff.

Despite the protest of the Obama administration, civil-rights and legal groups, the clergy and educators, this ruling has been upheld in Alabama. Other states, detailed by the Washington Post below, are considering similar repressive motives.

Here’s a roundup of what’s being said about the repercussions of this law.

After Ruling, Hispanics Flee an Alabama Town (New York Times synopsis of major ramifications)

A Lot More Than Just Angst In Alabama (National Council of La Raza reaction and legal implications)

Immigration reform debate: Envisioning society (Salt Lake City Deseret News editorial on long-term dangers of this ruling)

Graphic: ‘Copycat’ immigration laws (Washington Post map/graphic showing which states have similar pending laws)

123 Hispanics withdraw from Albertville schools (Local story in Alabama and commentary about impact on schools)

Churches lose fight over Ala. immigration law (National Catholic Reporter examines church opposition to immigrant ruling)

Hispanic students vanish from Alabama schools (Chicago Sun-Times on implication on Alabama public education)





  • I believe that our for fathers came from diffrent countries.
    I an Hispanic, and born in the USA, however, I feel that when
    other eithnic groups come over here, the should attempt to do
    it legally, No matter what race they are.

    If people are coming over here for the right reasons, than they shouldn’t hesistate to do things legaly, but if there intentions are for wrong doing,
    it’s no wonder we are having problems.

    Also, I worked in the past, my husband is also hispanic, and born here,
    How come illegals, can come over here aply for programs to help them, like grants, and the such, and they are granted these programs.

    This is not far to the ones that are American citizens first, if they become a legal citizen, then they should have the right to these programs.

    Other than that, they are not progressing,, buy learning english, going to school to better themselves and get better jobs.

    Again, I am not against illegals in these country, as long as they do it legally.

    • Luke Visconti

      How foolish you are. If there were a way to do it legally, they would. The system remains broken because the jackasses elected to Congress keep it that way. I wish Pelosi and Boehner had the sense to be embarrassed enough of their collective work and walk hand-in-hand into permanent retirement. You speak of others not learning English and you can barely write intelligible sentences. What religion teaches you such animus towards others? If my family were hungry and there was work nearby across some imaginary line, I’d walk across it and work. If I were fortunate enough to be born on the prosperous side of that imaginary line, I’d hand the traveler a sandwich. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

      • Rebecca Olivares

        Thank you Luke for responding to “Gwen” and her foolish statement. I agree with you 100%. It’s so sad that we have such widespread ignorance and distrust or dislike of people who are different from us (although not so different really) and we choose to focus on the fact that they broke the law seeking a better life for them and their family, but never do these anit-immigration zealots say, “Hey, look, if illegal aliens willfully return to their home country, we promise to hand them a check for the BILLIONS of dollars they’ve paid in state and federal income taxes from the day they began working in the U.S.” Yes, while they work here illegally, the vast majority use fake social security cards so the employer can “cover their behind” in the event of an audit and say “I verified all of their paperwork.” I’m an auditor, trust me on this one.

        So whiile they pay into the federal and state tax fund we all benefit from, we have people like Gwen trying to articulate a sentence opposing them applying for “programs” and “grants.” Grants?!

        One never hears the conversations being had about how employers exploit these workers (working terrible hours for little pay) and how we take their money in the form of taxes paid into the system that they never recover.

        Additionally, this “Gwen” person talks about the fact that they receive grants and apply for programs…I have no idea what/who she’s talking about because while undocumented people may have been able to receive social aid in the 70s (when our technology was not as advanced as today and systems were not inter-connected to allow for verification of legal status), that is NOT the case today.

        However, if they utilize hospitals and other coummunity programs, please refer to my previous statement and think about the well researched fact that a vast majority of undocumented workers pay taxes to the “system” and never get anything back. They absolutely have a right to utilize basic services like clinics and hospitals and other community programs because their taxes helf fund them.

        Please, please, please…get educated on a topic before you decide to speak to it in public. Otherwise, you make the rest of us Americans look bad and we live up to our terrible reputation of being ignorant, ill informed and driven by fear and racism. I have traveled the world and sadly, yes, this is one of the reputations we have and when someone like Gwen posts what she did, it just reinforces it.

      • William Bryant

        If I met a hungry person–regardless of their immigration status–I too would feed them and point them to the nearest shelter. As a fifth generation Alabama resident, I understand these laws are harsh. But they are in reaction to several administrations of the Federal Government which have not enforced employment laws with regard to illegal workers. Allowing illegal aliens to work hurts poor and minority workers who are U.S. citizens. Allowing illegals to work by being paid under the table or using phony ss numbers undermines efforts to have a minimum wage for unskilled and other workers. Once the borders are under control, perhaps an amnesty program for illegal immigrant residents in the U.S. can be worked out.

        • Luke Visconti

          I completely agree with you. You sound like a kind and empathetic man. See my column regarding my opinion of what’s wrong with the federal government.

          A person who works for DHS recently asked me to do a “good story” about them because they “really needed it.” I declined. I should have asked why they don’t do something that DESERVES a good story so good Americans don’t have to argue about people struggling to feed their families. It’s enough to make anyone with common sense sick. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

    • I agree with Luke. The vast majority of illegal’s are in this country to work in order to provide their children, sisters, brothers and parents a better life. If they can do it legally they would. If they can’t, they do what they have to do. Coming across the borders illegally doesn’t mean they’re slighting you or taking anything from you. When was the last time you went and applied for a job that required you to stand in an open field under the sun pulling vegetables, washing dishes or working at a gas station for next to nothing? It’s their God given right to live and be truly happy. Many are looking to leave the horrors of suppression and bad government behind them. Wouldn’t you do the same? And in case you’re wondering, my family migrated to the U.S.A. 41 years ago and we did it the “right” way as some of you put it. I watched my parents who were highly educated people work menial jobs so they can create a better life for their daughters. They did what they had to do and were rewarded with the “American Dream”.

    • So you are contradicting yourself? on your last sentence you say ” I am not against illegals in these country, as long as they do it legally.

      Consequently, you are against illegals!!!

  • It is frightening to think that the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave would attack the most helpless of its residents. The fact that companies are in jeopardy of closing because they can’t function effectively without the immigrant labor force, proves that immigrants, illegal or otherwise, are not taking “our” jobs. There are not enough Americans who want the jobs that the immigrants have filled to support the various companies that rely so heavily on their labor.

    • The most helpless of its residents? These are not residents no more than is I crossed into Mexico would I be a resident. I hear a lot of rumbling in the south about the lack of labor but I live in Ga and have yet to hear of one farm shutting down. A lot of emotion is being played on with only a little fact thrown in.

      • Luke Visconti

        There are lots of farms and businesses that can’t function. Food is rotting on the ground. Read the articles that we’ve linked to above, Mr. “little fact.” And, Mr. “little fact,” what is a person who lives in your town? A resident. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

  • Is this really a legitimate site for discussion? Are you really belittling your readers? My fathers family came from Cuba but did it legally. This imaginary line you speak of is what makes us The USA and why people want to come here. It is why the drug lords stay were they are. Rules and laws are meant to be followed. If you do not like them then work to have them changed.Otherwise you have chaos. If my family is hungry does it give me the right to rob someone to feed them? No.Laws are written to keep our lives civil. And did not the KKK break and bend the laws they did not like?

    • Luke Visconti

      Let’s not be so high and mighty. Most Cuban Americans got here “legally” because there was political expediency involved in lifting the paperwork for Cubans to come here legally en masse – a couple of times. Rules are rules? How on earth do 16 million people break a rule without arousing your suspicions over the people creating and running the rules? (That same principle applies to the bogus “war on drugs” – more people take drugs than ever, and all we have accomplished is to have every po-dunk police force creating a SWAT team and running around with automatic weapons and black masks). The overwhelming majority of people here without documents come here to WORK. They rob nobody and if my family is hungry, I’ll do what I have to do to feed them – you can follow the rules and lie on the curb and die if you want to. If Americans followed the rules, we’d all still be British citizens and the folks in Cuba would all be Spanish citizens. If you want a discussion only with people who agree with you, there’s always Rush Limbaugh’s website. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

    • Rebecca Olivares

      Marc “from Cuba” — Cubans received immediate status as refugees immediately upon arrival to the U.S. Please don’t start saying that they came here legally because Cubans received a benefit that no one else gets. They were very lucky people because guess what, if you come here and are given immediate legal status, then you can go to college, you can get a decent paying job with benefit and legal protection. As such, you cannot compare the cuban immigration situation with that of other cultures (like Asians who come here in ships and die on their way here or Mexicans and Central Americans who cross the dangerous desert and die on their way here, etc).

      My grandmother was from Mexico. She had to leave my mother and aunt with her month for 12 years before she could afford the cost of bringing them over legally. It cost her $1,000 each in 1964. She was a single woman who cleaned houses for years in Texas and California in hopes of being reunited with her daugthers one day and “just” 12 years later, she was able to do it, eventually becoming a naturalized citizen herself.

      If she were cuban, she would have been handed a visa as soon as she landed in American soil. And, trust me, as hard as she worked, she would have “fast tracked” that goal and she would have gotten an education and would have accomplished so much more. But, there in lies the difference. When you have a head start, you can do a hell of a lot and there are no excuses. Cubans have had a heck of a head start. Appreciate it and have compassion for those who have not.

      • Luke Visconti

        I’m publishing this because Rebecca makes some good points. However, many Cuban Americans came here under very difficult circumstances – and often penniless. Please look at my interview with SEC Commissioner Aguilar. He was a “peter-pan” child – if you don’t know what that is, look it up, it will break your heart. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

  • Actually I believe it is you who does not want to have a Discussion rather have a platform to wave your political flag. And I am not much of a fan of the Ditto Heads.
    So with the reference to the British you are saying that this invasion of illegal aliens should not be met with resistance? That any country should just be able to walk freely across our bourders? Please tell me what other country would allow such a thing? That a country should just lay back while it is being invaded? Or should it only be America that does that? To your shock I agree that this war on drugs needs to end. Let adults decide if that is the path they want to take as with alcohol. But the laws need to be changed not run over.

    • Luke Visconti

      If you want open discussion where everybody has an equal voice without regard for thoughtfulness or accuracy, go to Twitter. This is a publication. But since you’re here, let’s define the discussion: Should we have secure borders? Of course we should. Do we? No. The only thing left to discuss is what we do with the human beings who came here – almost all of them to work. I think we should treat them like human beings. They are not “illegals.” They are people. You don’t have to agree with me – but if you post a foolish, half-literate comment on my website (like the first person I responded to), I’m going to use you as an object lesson for the people in my audience who run businesses. If you treat your customers like “illegals,” you will have zero loyalty, and if you have millions of customers that you treat like “illegals,” you will have zero respect. If you allow your employees to treat each other like “illegals,” you will lose your best and brightest, your productivity will be nowhere near where it could be and you’ll struggle to compete as your corporate culture will be compelled to treat its customers the same way people treat each other internally. Now here’s a question for you: Do you think the woes in our current economy are from honest Campesinos who came here to work – or from a pattern of behavior that we’ve learned from the cavalier and inhuman treatment we’ve afforded them – and by extension, to each other? If you don’t know who Angelo Mozilo is, look him up and ask yourself who’s “illegal” and how in the heck the government allows him to walk around as a free man. Watch the Wall Street protests carefully. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

      • Luke, I am a fan. Keep up the good work. I bet marc considers himself a christian too.

  • I agree with marc for the most part of it. Would you only support your audience if Canadians began to invade America for jobs. Illegal is the key word here and if every country could just come into America as they please this country would lose a lot of power and have forever increasing prison rates. Also, America is not the best country Brazil is probably have the same issues with immigration as America. I also see Luke point politicians have to come up with solutions to allow more legal immigrants into the country and ways to increase the penalty for the ones that break the law to enter this country.

    • Luke Visconti

      I agree with your last sentence, but from what I’ve read, immigrants (documented and not) commit fewer crimes per capita than people born here. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

  • I wish that people and politicans would see that CHILDREN should not be penalized for being undocumented. Undocumented children must bare the biggest burden in all of this. They are constantly punished for their parents’ decisions to cross over. They must constantly move, have an oppressive education, and live in fear of their parents one day not picking them up from school because they were deported. Many grow up speaking English and identifying with American culture much more than their birth countries…and then are denied access to college, jobs, and a good life simply because they came here illegally when they were little. Children should not be victimized, and I wish governments would see this.

    • Rebecca Olivares

      Annie, I completely agree and that is a sad, sad fact. What is even more tragic is the long-term consequences this type of instability has on the child themselves. They are already set up to fail from the start and never had a fair chance.

  • illegal Immigration cost the american tax payers billions of dollars each year. when you go to your public hospital, money in which [you] pay taxes to, majority of the people that are in the hospital are illegal aliens (i’m referring to the south). But, if you have a sick child and live just above the poverty level, the hospitals want even serve you, unless it’s an emergency, simply because your parents make just enough to classify themselves as middle class. when illegal aliens work they make less than minimum wage, that’s why they are hired, it’s just another form of modern day slavery or you might even call it sharecropping. I don’t want to here about the sympathic children. If you can’t afford the children don’t have them and that’s not just for mexican that’s with every race. I’m just tired of taken care of healthy people. I was born poor, so no one can tell me anything. If you are going to come to america and live learn to speak the english.

    • Luke Visconti

      The natural urge to reproduce is very powerful. Somebody had you, yet you acknowledge that you were born poor. Why was it OK for your poor parents, but not someone else’s? Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

  • Juan De La Riva


    Thanks for all the useful information. I agree with you and you make excellent points. Thanks for reaching out to people. Keep up the great work!!!

  • I agree with the article and if the government were to sit and calculate how much immigrants contributed to this country, they would not do as they did in Alabama. Nowadays jobs like nursing home, janitors and the like, at least for where I live are filled with immigrants. I’m not degrading immigrants for I am one too but it’s to resonate with the author that immigrants will do whatever to take care of their family. I know that full well. And to Mike’s comment: as a bible believing christian we are commanded like this: “do not mistreat an alien or oppress him…” Exodus 22:21. So I hope if he is a christian, he will heed this ordinance from the Lord. Wow! Alabama is in chaos now, I hope they reconsider…

  • Why is it better to export jobs to other countries, some of which have slave labor conditions, than to have people in the US who want the work but happen to have been born elsewhere? If US-born people are not willing to do the work, it at least gives others a chance to feed their families. I imagine that some of those jobs pay taxes, social security, and other fees, although it’s hard to say. Ethnic cleansing of Alabama will not help the people who are born there, it hurts the local economy.

    That line, “Again, I am not against illegals in these country, as long as they do it legally.” Is it satire or real? If satire, it’s really funny. If real…. it’s still really funny.

  • I agree with Annie! I was one of those illegal immigrant children who came to this country in the 80’s. I still remember being afraid of being
    deported. I was nine and had to work at a farm to help feed my family. I never enjoyed the life most Americans lived such as after school activities, playdates with school friends, or even watch tv! Never-the-less, I was grateful for the food I was receiving and the job I was able to do. At 14 years of age I knew that despite my situation, I could be someone who made a difference. I am now a teacher. I think
    that instead of dehumanizing Mexicans because it is them who are
    suffering the most, we should concern ourselves with being less
    wastefull in every sense!

    • Maria
      Just so you are aware, quit “pulling the violin strings”!!
      Your family obviously came over here ILLEGALLY so don’t even complain. If it was so bad when you were 9 and had to supposedly work to “feed your family” miss noble, then go back were you came from and shut-up!! You individuals are breaking the law and getting billions of our legal citizens tax dollars, meaning we are paying for you muchers, and do not even have the right to complain about having to actually work for the handouts while breaking the law! Also sweetie, that job you have is stolen from us Legal Americans so DEPORT AWAY and keep your violin story to yourself.

      • Luke Visconti

        Hey Becky, what’s a “mucher”? While you’re thinking about that, here’s another question: Have you ever noticed the inverse relationship between intelligence and use of ALL CAPS and multiple punctuation marks? With this comment, we are closing all comments for this article – no further comments positive or negative will be posted. Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

        • Jo Ann Johnson, MSW

          Mr. Visconti,

          I am sending this email to express my gratitude for your comment posted to Ms. Smith. Unfortunatley, in today’s society there are individuals that filled with hatred and insensitive to the struggles of many cultures that have worked hard for their families to remain in the land of freedom. Once again thank you.

  • I think the law is a correct response to the immigration issue. These individuals are in the U.S. illegally and it is as simple as that. The so called economic effects that people are whinning about is of no importance. The thousands of people in the State that are now out of work, will be available to fill any employment slots left open by these criminals leaving. The schools will now have less students and more teachers available to spent time teaching real American students are not criminals who came here illegally. Good riddance to all of them. They talk about breaking up families, but most of them did that when they left Mexico to come here, besides the family will not be broke up if you simply take the kids back with ya. The fake names and Social security numbers, the fake licenses, the drug trafficking used to build up Mexican communities will suddenly end, the exploitation by the Catholic churches bent on having members to pay offerings will be over. Good riddance to them all.

    • Luke Visconti

      Could the answer to our problems be as simple as this? Or do you need a swirley? Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

  • If you have to lie to make your point… It is better to shut up, your point is wrong.

    Somebody show me where in the Alabama law it instructs or allows police to pull over people because they “think” they may be illegal?

    Hint: Its not there.

    Why accept the lies? Why is it so important to mislead someone? Maybe because their position is just plain wrong.

    • Luke Visconti

      You don’t know what you’re talking about. Here’s a story of a Mercedes Benz executive who was arrested because he didn’t have the right papers.
      He was released because of the political pressure involved with arresting an executive of a company that has a large manufacturing plant; just imagine what happens to people without the right connection. Click here to read the AP story.
      Luke Visconti, CEO of DiversityInc

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