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Rep. Napolitano Visits Alabama to Highlight Economic Damage from Immigration Law

November 21, 2011
Press Release

Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano joined a congressional delegation for a visit to Alabama to see first-hand the damage caused by HB 56, Alabama’s extreme anti-immigration law.

“Alabama’s immigration policy has been an economic disaster,” Napolitano said. “Workers are leaving the state, agricultural crops are dying in the fields, and the local economy is losing millions of dollars. This is a law that hurts all of Alabama, not just immigrants. The entire state is now suffering the consequences of these extreme policies, and it is clearer than ever before that we need real immigration reform at the national level."

Other members of Congress on the trip included Reps. Joe Baca (CA), Yvette Clark (NY), Charlie Gonzalez (TX), Al Green (TX), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Luis Gutierrez (IL), Zoe Lofgren (CA), Terri Sewell (AL), and Silvestre Reyes (TX). The trip was paid for by the representatives and taxpayer funds were not used.

The members conducted an ad hoc hearing in Birmingham, where students, government officials, workers, and families affected by the law testified to the damage it has caused.

After the hearing, Napolitano and the rest of the delegation participated in the launch for “One Family, One Alabama,” a grassroots campaign initiated by Alabama activists to repeal HB 56.

Since Alabama enacted their restrictive immigration law last June, Alabama’s farmers have reported a shortage of agricultural workers and Alabama’s schools have seen lower attendance. The University of Alabama has estimated that the law will reduce Alabama’s economy by at least $40 million.

Background

Alabama’s extreme anti-immigration law, HR 56, was enacted on June 2, 2011. On September 28, the U.S. District Court for the state of Alabama blocked some elements of the bill, including a provision that requires all public schools to document and report the immigration status of each student, but it left others in place.

The law currently makes it a crime for the state to provide any service to an illegal immigrant, including water service, professional licenses, death certificates, and any other type of service. The law invalidates all legal contracts that include an illegal immigrant, including loans, leases, and rental agreements, leaving any party involved in the contract without legal recourse. The law also allows police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop, arrest, or have reason to suspect may be in the country unlawfully.

The law has caused widespread confusion and has imposed expensive new burdens on private employers and government offices, which now verify citizenship or risk being exposed to legal action. Many families have already left the state, resulting in a workforce shortage, damage to the economy, and a decline in state tax revenue.

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