Crops are rotting in the fields because farmers cannot find enough workers to harvest them. A business official said it was a mistake to believe “there were long lines of Alabamians who wanted these labor-intensive jobs.
A research firm estimated that 95,000 undocumented immigrants worked in Alabama in 2010. They were about 4 percent of the work force.
The sponsors of the law said they are opposed to any changes that would undermine its intent — cracking down on immigrants who are in Alabama illegally.
The law requires:
- Police to check the citizenship status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally
- Schools to check the citizenship status of students
- Employers to enroll in the federal E-Verify program to check the status of employees
- State and local government officials to determine the citizenship of anyone doing business with the government, such as purchasing or renewing license tags
A farmer said he normally hires about 20 pickers – mostly Hispanic immigrants – for October harvest. Last week he could only find five. “They are all leaving here. They are just scared. They are taking their kids out of school.”
The head of a business council said, labor shortages could be “serious issues” because Hispanics who are skilled workers may be leaving Alabama. Contractors have said legal immigrants have left because of the law.
Workers here legally have not come to work because of concerns about the impact of the law are their families. “That worries them because they may have a spouse or child that is not a citizen,” a businessman said.
A farmer said he said he has found a few American workers for his fields, but he complained they cannot keep up with his Hispanic crews. “If you want to solve the immigration problem, quit eating,” he said.