Thursday, March 1, 2012

"It's Just Not Right": The Failures of Alabama's Self-Deportation Experiment


HB 56, enforcement is emphasized to the extreme. "The way this bill is now," Smith said, "if you have anything to do with them whatsoever, you're breaking the law. If you see 'em and they're hungry, or if they're out here run over by an automobile layin' in a ditch, and you help 'em, you're breakin' the law." He swung to smash a fly on his desk and missed. "It's just not right."

." At a Republican Party breakfast prior to the bill's passage, Beason warned: "If you allow illegal immigration to continue in your area, you will destroy yourself eventually. If you don't believe illegal immigration will destroy a community, go and check out parts of Alabama around Arab and Albertville." (The mayors of both towns, both Republicans, bristled at the claim that their towns were going to hell.) Before returning to his seat, Beason called on his fellow Republicans to "empty the clip, and do what has to be done."

As HB 56 was moving through the Legislature, Hammon made remarkable claims, telling the Anniston Star that illegal immigrants cost Alabama between $600 and $800 million annually in "a lot of things," including unemployment benefits for pushed-aside legal residents, health care costs, education, and lost tax revenue. When the Star fact-checked his figures, it discovered that he'd simply extrapolated from a much-criticized Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) study that claimed illegal immigration cost Arizona $2.6 billion. The study's own estimate of Alabama's burden was only $298 million. Beason, meanwhile, cast HB 56's purpose as "putting Alabamians back to work," promising it would be "the biggest jobs program for Alabamians that has ever been passed."

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