It's been 36 days since most of Alabama's extreme anti-immigration bill, HB 56, was upheld in court. While some of the worst aspects of it have been temporarily blocked (i.e. requiring that schools check the immigration status of students), thousands of immigrants have fled their jobs, their schools and their houses in a exodus not seen in recent times. The almost 200,000 Latinos who remain in Alabama have been left in a state of fear and insecurity.
As the law stands, police are allowed to racially profile anyone they suspect of being illegal, all contracts with undocumented immigrants are invalid (i.e. child support, leases, or jobs), and it's now a crime for undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver's license or even a job. Immigration and human rights experts say this law is the most stringent and extreme in the developed world.
The result is that crops are rotting in the fields, buildings are not being rebuilt after the devastating tornadoes earlier this year and many small businesses are suffering huge losses in customers and workers. People are afraid to leave their house let alone make contact with police or social services. Domestic violence help centers say many immigrants have stopped reporting their abusers to police for fear of being detained
Through it all, Alabama's governor has responded to complaints by employers and displaced workers by saying "Those stories are anecdotal stories... It'll work itself out." Well, Voto Latino has compiled ten statistics that go beyond anecdotes to show just how detrimental the bill really is - to Alabama, its immigrant families and human rights.
25% - The percent of construction workers in Alabama thought to have left the state since HB 56 went into effect, seven months after tornadoes devastated many Alabama towns.
$5.5 Billion - The size of Alabama's agricultural industry.
5 - The minimum number of people who have been placed in deportation proceedings since Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the agency is not working with Alabama to enforce HB 56.
$130 Million - the amount in taxes undocumented immigrants paid in Alabama in 2010.
10% - The success rate of busing unemployed workers to farm fields to replace workers who left.
$140 Million - The amount that Georgia agriculture lost in their spring and summer harvest due to their anti-immigration law (similar to Alabama's HB 56).
860% - The amount by which undocumented immigrants were more productive in the tomato fields than their replacements.
Much is still not known about the precise effect this controversial law is having in Alabama because it is too early and statistics are not being kept. On Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department tried to remedy that by demanding that Alabama schools compile data regarding attendance and withdrawals. The Alabama attorney general has written back questioning the Feds authority to ask for such data.
Voto Latino will continue to follow the impacts of this legislation and others like it. Sign our petition to show your opposition to these types of discriminatory laws and help put a stop to this crisis in Alabama.
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