The original sponsors of Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant bill HB56 have acknowledged that the law is deeply flawed and are now drafting a new bill to modify some of the harsher provisions. Yet this reaction comes only as a response to the economic woes that the bill has caused as a consequence. However, the restrictionists at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) want people from Alabama to remember what the law has supposedly done for the state. In a recent article, FAIR continues to make the unsubstantiated claim that the law is exactly what Alabama’s economy and workers need. By pitting Alabama’s native-born workers against immigrants, FAIR argues that “self-deportation” will level the playing field for Alabama’s workers, giving them access to the jobs that immigrants currently hold. However, not only is this claim completely false, but if undocumented immigrants were to “self-deport” the state would lose workers, taxpayers, and consumers, thus causing the state’s economy to shrink in the process.
This economic factor is already evident to many in the state, including many who were supporters of the bill. Gerald Dial, Alabama State Senate Republican whip and former HB 56 supporter, stated that the law will make other states more attractive for investors, consequently costing the state a lot of business, especially considering that 5% of the workforce is employed by foreign companies. This self-deportation tactic also puts a burden on businesses that have to comply with the harsh provisions, incurring additional “shadow costs” for protecting themselves from the law’s penalties. Furthermore, implementing the law is very costly as well thus making the combination of it shrinking the economy and the tax base is a combustible mix. FAIR claims to actually care about Alabama’s workers but the reality of it is that they are just using them to advance their anti-immigrant strategy. Rather than advocating policies that benefit Alabama’s workforce, it blames unauthorized immigrants for the state’s problems. If FAIR thinks Alabama needs a better educated and stable workforce then it should put its resources toward supporting policies that provide opportunities and protect the rights of all workers regardless of immigration status.