The Washington Post explores the impact of Alabama’s tough state law against illegal immigrants, which took effect last fall. In Albertville, whose economy relies on a massive factory that processes 130,000 chickens a day, many Mexican immigrants vanished overnight, rattling the town's large Hispanic community and leaving the poultry business scrambling to find workers willing to stand for hours in a wet, chilly room, cutting up dead chickens.
Sponsors of the law say it has done exactly what they had hoped, driving tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from the state. President Obama's announcement Friday of a temporary legal amnesty for more than 1 million young undocumented immigrants nationwide clashes directly with Alabama's legislation. “All our activities will be for naught if the president grants amnesty to everyone,” said state Sen. Scott Beason, the chief sponsor of the Alabama law. The state senator said he had “absolutely no doubt” that the law, and the resulting exodus of illegal workers, has started putting more Alabamians to work. Beason noted that the state's unemployment rate has fallen sharply since last fall, from 9.8 percent to 7.2 percent. Nevertheless, employers in Alabama said they have not been able to find enough legal residents to replace the seasoned Hispanic workers who fled the state. There was an initial rush of job applications, they said, but many new employees quit or were let go.