Africans Arrive in Alabama to fill job openings

The new immigration law that was designed to rid Alabama of undocumented immigrants has helped to give new jobs to other immigrants. Immigrants from who were living in Atlanta have become the unexpected beneficiaries of available work in factories and farms throughout Alabama.

The results are not what the supporters of the law thought would happen. Senator Scott Beason a Republican and a sponsor of the legislation said last year that the new restrictions against undocumented immigrants would give thousands of Alabama legal residents work.

Instead, the law caused a shortage in labor that in turn resulted in recruiters importing hundreds of Haitian and African refugees as well as Puerto Ricans who are all legal. Most of the workers had been recruited to work in the poultry industry, in an area that was once dominated by undocumented workers, according to data from the Pew Hispanic Center.

Five states, including Alabama passed tough immigration laws last year that were modelled after the Arizona immigration law of 2010 that for the most part was invalidated by the Supreme Court. Last month, in Atlanta an appellate court said many of the requirements of the law in Alabama were not constitutional. Some of the provisions, including one that allows police to arrest any person they suspect is an illegal immigrant, remain in force.

Plants in Alabama sought the hiring of refugees because very few local people were interested in working the jobs or were not qualified. Many employees who were Hispanic and illegal, left following the implementation of the new law. One company had to spend over $5 million to hire and train its new workers. Turnover prior to the new law at many of these plants was close to 50% and today it is over 90%.



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