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Friday, October 21, 2011

How Are Those State Laws Against Immigrants Working?

The news over the past few days has included at least two stories from the Associated Press suggesting that the momentum is not entirely forward for the states trying to legislate against undocumented immigrants. The first story comes out of Alabama, whose incredibly harsh laws have sent immigrants heading elsewhere. The result is the predictable one--farmers cannot find US citizens willing to harvest the crops. Well, duh, that's actually why the immigrants were there in the first place.

"I've had people calling me wanting to work," [potato farmer] Smith said. "I haven't turned any of them down, but they're not any good. It's hard work, they just don't work like the Hispanics with experience."
Alabama passed its law in June and it was immediately challenged by the Obama administration as it has been in other states. Unlike those states' measures, Alabama's law was left largely in place while challenges played out in court, frightening Hispanics and driving many of them away.
The agriculture industry suffered the most immediate impact. Farmers said they will have to downsize or let crops die on the vine. As the season's harvest winds down, many are worried about next year.
In south Georgia, Connie Horner has heard just about every reason unemployed Americans don't want to work on her blueberry farm. It's hot, the hours are long, the pay isn't enough and it's just plain hard.
"You can't find legal workers," Horner said. "Basically they last a day or two, literally."
Over the past two weeks, The Associated Press has reached out to the governor's office and other officials to provide the names of Alabama residents who have taken immigrant jobs. Either they were not made available, or didn't want to speak publicly.
The second story comes out of Arizona, where a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Arizona governor Jan Brewer against the federal government claiming that it had abdicated its duty to control the US-Mexico border.
The dismissal by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton comes in a counter-lawsuit filed by Brewer as part of the Justice Department's challenge to Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law.
The Republican governor was seeking a court order that would require the federal government to take extra steps, such as more border fencing, to protect Arizona until the border is controlled.
Bolton said Brewer's claim that Washington has failed to protect Arizona from an "invasion" of illegal immigrants was a political question that isn't appropriate for the court to decide.
The DOJ sued the state of Arizona last year in a bid to invalidate Arizona's immigration enforcement law. Bolton put key parts of the law on hold, such as a provision requiring police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if officers had "reasonable suspicion" the person was in the country illegally.

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