A sponsor of Alabama’s tough new immigration law told desperate tomato farmers Monday that he won’t change the law, even though they told him that their crops are rotting in the field and they are at risk of losing their farms.
Republican state Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale met with about 50 growers, workers, brokers and business people Monday at a tomato packing shed on Chandler Mountain in northeast Alabama. They complained that the new law, which went into effect Thursday, scared off many of their migrant workers at harvest time.
“The tomatoes are rotting on the vine, and there is very little we can do,” said Chad Smith, who farms tomatoes with his uncle, father and brother.
“My position is to stay with the law as it is,” Beason told the farmers.
Beason helped write and sponsor a law the Legislature enacted in June to crack down on illegal immigration. It copied portions of laws enacted in Arizona, Georgia and other states, including allowing police to detain people indefinitely if they don’t have legal status. Beason and other proponents said the law would help free up jobs for Alabamians in a state suffering through 9.9 percent unemployment.
The farmers said the some of their workers may have been in the country illegally, but they were the only ones willing to do the work.
“This law will be in effect this entire growing season,” Beason told the farmers. He said he would talk to his congressman about the need for a federal temporary worker program that would help the farmers next season.
“There won’t be no next growing season,” farmer Wayne Smith said.
“Does America know how much this is going to affect them? They’ll find out when they go to the grocery store. Prices on produce will double,” he said.So, let me get this right: crops rotting. Hard working American farmers at risk of losing everything they own. No one coming to work the fields.
It can't be about jobs, as this is threatening to put more people out of work. But if the anti-immigrant folks are to be believed, it's NOT about racism either.
Kick out all the brown people, make a lot of people lose their farms and homes--in many cases, old farms that have been owned by the same family for generations--make food more expensive for the average citizen who is struggling to get by, and generally inflict more damage on an already depressed economy. Historically speaking, racist otherism is about the only thing that makes Americans dumb enough to continue with such programs in the face of all available evidence.
If you don't want to call it racism, fine: call it criminally ignorant economic insanity. But the Alabama electorate should decide whether it will continue to support the politicians that did this to them, and if they do, I'd like to know why.
bellum medicamenti delenda est