Definition and measurement of the policy
Immigration has been a hot button issue in Alabama in particular and in United States in general. This resulted in Alabama State passing a tough immigration law. In 2001, Alabama passed the HB56. This is the harshest state immigration to have ever been passed in the country. The law attacked virtually every aspect of life of illegal aliens. Among the key provisions of the bill included: Banning landlords from renting their homes to undocumented aliens, allowing schools to check on immigration status of students and permitting the police to arrest any suspected immigration violators. This law thrust Alabama into an unexpected test for anti-immigration movements. It was argued that deportation could not work elsewhere if it did not work in Alabama. Undocumented immigrants started feeling Alabama in large numbers. Two years into the implementation of the law, it went into ruins and it had far reaching implications that proved unworkable, unconstitutional and politically unsustainable. From the year 2000 to 2010, there had been a rise in the number of illegal immigrants from 25000 to 120000 in Alabama. These immigrants jammed jobs in meatpacking, agriculture and construction. When the Alabama immigration law took effect, it sends shock waves all over the Hispanic and Mexican communities in the state. Families were left overnight, families and friends were also separated, parents pulled their children from schools, city centers were deserted because legal and illegal immigrants tried to hide from the police. The people of Alabama considered illegal immigration as a very serious issue; they saw various problems in all aspects of illegal immigrants from the economy, government services and on cultural matters (Gomes, 2014).
United States of America has been challenged and changed over time due to immigration policies. Various legislations passed to curb illegal immigrants in America have not borne fruits. This changed when HB56 was passed in the state of Alabama. The issue of illegal immigrants has been a torn in the flesh of America government, both state and federal and with time it is becoming a significant national hot button issue. The population of the Hispanics has surged due to the ever increasing influx of illegal immigrants; these illegal immigrants came to the United States of America to find employment and this was catalyzed by their labor that is in demand. There are several bills that have sought to criminalize the issue of illegal immigrants, states consider illegal immigrants as a burden and there is need to rid them off (Gomes, 2014). The residents considered illegal immigrants as out to put pressure on the available resources and opportunities. Prior to the passage of the law in Alabama, the residents had developed strong anti-immigrants sentiments as they thought they were costly and burden to the tax payer.
Effects of the policy
When the law was passed, Albertville, the city with booming poultry industry and which had attracted thousands of Central America and Mexico immigrants became the face of the crackdown. The immigration law criminalized the act of illegal immigrants buying a house, signing a contract or paying for utility bill. The bill also penalized people who employed them and it permitted the police at checkpoints and on routine traffic stops to ask drivers of their immigration status. The residents, in public polls have argued that illegal immigrants do not have any impact on the economy of the state and hence the state will not suffer if they are expelled (Roman & Olivas, 2013).
For many years, poultry workers in Alabama had been Mexican immigrants, including those who had been in the state illegally. After the immigration law was passed and when it took effect, many of them disappeared and rattled the state’s Hispanic community. They left the poultry industry scrambling for workers to replace them. This was a major blow to the state’s economy. Sponsors of the law achieved their objective of driving away illegal immigrants. Sections of the law have been challenged and President Obama announced temporary legal amnesty for approximately 1 million illegal immigrants.
According to the state senator, the mass exodus of illegal immigrants due to the punitive law has put more Alabama people to work. As a result of the bill, the employment rate in the state has sharply fallen from 9.8 to 7.2 percent. However, several employers in the state complained that they have not been able to find legal residents willing to replace the Mexican and Hispanic field workers, poultry workers and landscapers. There is little or no doubt that several immigrants have left Alabama since the passage of the law. Commentators argue that the drop in employment rate may be due to shrinking number of workers because of baby-boomer retirement. Employers in Alabama have mentioned that they have spent a lot of money in training new workers and to compensate for the lost production occasioned by the bill. Legal Mexican and Hispanic immigrants left Alabama because they never wanted to be separated from their illegal relatives. This proved costly to the state and hence creating chilling effect on the Latino community (Clark & Veal, 2010).
The sponsors of HB56 argue that the law was designed to make life unbearable for undocumented immigrants who reside in Alabama. When the law was allowed by the courts to take effect, it triggered urgent and humanitarian crisis. Thousands of school going children failed to show up and welfare organizations have called wanting to help those who have been affected by the new law. The law uses fear as the only weapon to oppress and marginalia any unwanted population or community. The law makes the state inhospitable for illegal immigrants. The law is just a replica of the segregation policies of the 1960s and it is achieving its effect.
The immigration law also made the contracts that have been entered with undocumented immigrants to be null and void; this therefore left all the undocumented immigrants with no recourse combat and leaving immigrants open to unscrupulous landlords and employers. The law also rendered it a felony for illegal immigrants to contract with any government entity. The immigration law was therefore very discriminative and punitive. Instead of the law becoming a policy like any other policy designed to ensure that every individual is treated fairly, the immigration law only declared war of attrition against illegal immigrants and it made them to vanish. To economists, this process served to expel the productive portion of the population hence resulting in economic loss for the state. The law therefore, went against the economic interests of the state.
Evaluation of policy alternatives
The strict immigration law in Alabama could backfire in the long run. The law was intended at forcing illegal immigrants out of employment; the law also managed to drive away construction workers, field hands and roofers who resided in the state. Their movement has created vacancies left a void in the employment sector that could not be replaced easily. This dealt a blow to the economy of the state. Employers believe that they cannot carry out their activities due to the dismal nature of the economy exposed by the exodus of workers. Hispanic workers flew the state with their friends and family because they feared punitive measures that could arise from the bill (Roman & Olivas, 2013). There is need for a policy that can gently solve the less brought about by the immigration law.
Criteria of policy assessment
The people of Alabama had complained that illegal immigrants were ripping them off and a workable immigration law was all that they needed. This is the concern that drives the state of Alabama to pass the immigration legislation; this has also been done by the state of Arizona, South Carolina and Arizona and there are other immigration related legislations in other states.
The people of Alabama are staring at the stark reality as to whether they can stay and cope without illegal immigrants, who play a pivotal role in the economy of the state. It is with no doubt that the Alabama immigration law is the most comprehensive of all immigration laws that have been passed by the United States of America. It is the punitive one that is touted to bring to an end the issue of undocumented immigrants. The law has created conditions that are very unwelcome and that will enable undocumented immigrants to voluntary leave. By the above measures, the Alabama immigration law has been a success and it has driven thousands of illegal immigrants from the state and it has been supported by immigrants, politicians and employers. Due to the laws, employers have managed to escape sanctions because companies and employers were prohibited from hiring illegal immigrants since they risked years or probation and suspension of their business operating licenses (Clark & Veal, 2010).
Clark, C., & Veal, D.-T. (2010). Public opinion in Alabama: Looking beyond the stereotypes. Lanham, Md: Lexington Books.
Gomes, A. (2014). In wake of immigration law, some migrants return to Alabama. Retrieved on 1st April 1, 2014 from: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-02-21/alabama-immigration-hispanic/53180746/1
Roman, E & Olivas, M. (2013). Those Damned Immigrants: America’s Hysteria over Undocumented Immigration. New York University Press.