Just five months after signing into law the nations "toughest" anti-immigration law, Alabama lawmakers are having "second thoughts amid a backlash from big business, fueled by the embarrassing traffic stops of two foreign employees tied to the state's prized Honda and Mercedes plants."
The backpedaling involves the state's Republican attorney general calling for the repeal of the the strictest parts of the law, Republican lawmakers now saying they want to make some changes and the Alabama governor contacting foreign execs to say they're "pro-foreign" countries, the Associated Press reports.
By comparison, in Arizona, it took almost a year before business leaders told state lawmakers, including the disgraced Arizona Senate President Russel Pearce, who was booted from office during a November recall election, to put the breaks of anti-immigration laws.
"... we strongly believe it is unwise for the Legislature to pass any additional immigration legislation, including any measures leaving the determination of citizenship to the state," the Chamber wrote in March 2011. Governor Jan Brewer signed the measure into law in April 2010.
Autoworkers getting tangled in Alabama's immigration law is not a good look for the state considering the state is home to several major automakers, including Mercedes Benz, Hyundai, Honda and Toyota, that pour millions into the state's economy.
LULAC today called for auto manufacturers and related supply companies to reconsider doing business in a state that has passed and is enforcing anti-immigration laws like HB 56 (their much-harsher version of SB 1070.)
Alabama's latest round of negative national attention was prompted when Alabama police arrested a Mercedes Benz executive from Germany because he wasn't carrying the right identification under the state's new anti-immigrant law. And a Japanese worker assigned to the Honda manufacturing plant was also cited "even though he had a valid Japanese passport and international driver's license," the Wall Street Journal reported.
The cases against both men have been dropped, but Alabama is still reeling from the bad press.
From AP's report:
The Republican sponsors of the immigration legislation promoted it as a jobs bill that would run off undocumented immigrants and open up employment for legal residents. That was an easy political sale in a state suffering from nearly 10 percent unemployment. Even some Democrats voted for the law.
Since the law took effect, Alabama's unemployment rate has dropped a half percentage point. Economists and state officials who compile the statistics say it's too early to say whether to credit the immigration law.
But one of the sponsors, Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, said neighboring states without a similar law haven't seen the same drop. "There is nothing else to attribute it to," he said.
If there has been any damage, he said it's the fault of inaccurate portrayals in the news media. He said the media ought to be reporting: "This law establishes a safer, more secure environment for people to come here and invest their money."
Ask the Mercedes Benz executive from Germany who was arrested and dragged into court.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.