According to recent rumors at the Montgomery State House, Alabama officials are looking for solutions to their state’s immigration and labor crises. In order to stem the tide of illegal immigration, earlier this summer, state officials passed one of the toughest immigration laws in the nation.
The law barred employers from entering into contracts with illegal immigrants, required all employers to use the federal E-Verify system, required school officials to document students who were in the country illegally, and empowered state police to verify the immigration status of individuals they detained.
The result of this law was a massive drop in farm labor. Hispanic residents, both legal and illegal, left the state, leaving a large gap in available labor and costing hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Hoping to restore lost labor, some Alabama officials are looking to imitate recent laws passed in Utah, where state officials attempted to create a guest worker program for illegal immigrants. The program would have allowed illegal residents to live and work after paying a $1,000 to $2,500 fine.
Utah’s immigration law, however, requires federal approval, which at the present seems unlikely. In addition, it may be challenged in court, with some opponents claiming that states have no constitutional mandate to create immigration statuses without explicit federal approval.
While there is some talk in Montgomery of implementing a policy like Utah’s, many state politicians have placed their hopes in Congress and have petitioned the House and Senate to revise and expand federal guest worker programs.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer