Legal Latino Workers in Alabama Flee from Immigration Law
The tough new immigration law of Alabama, intended to put undocumented workers out of jobs, is also scaring away a lot of legal Latino construction workers, roofers, as well as field hands, and could potentially deal a huge blow to the economy of the state.
The vacancies have created a vacuum in some of the most backbreaking jobs in the country and could slow down the rebuilding of Tuscaloosa and other cities damaged by tornado.
Employers say that they can carry on because of the gloomy economy. However, when things eventually turn around, they fear that there would not be anyone to fill in the vacant jobs. A lot of legal Latino workers are running away from the state because their family and friends do not have proper documentation and they are fear that they might also end up in jail.
The owner of a commercial landscaping business in Montgomery, Rick Pate, lost two of his most skilled and experienced workers, who happen to be in the country legally. His company spent thousands of dollars in training expenses so that they could learn how to set up irrigation systems at various places like the Hyundai plant.
Pate said, “They just feel like there is a negative atmosphere for them here. They don’t feel welcome. I don’t begrudge them. I’d feel nervous, too.”
According to Bill Caton, the president of Associated General Contractors of Alabama, although there are no clear numbers on how many of the approximately 185,000 Latinos in Alabama have fled, one estimate figure as much as one-fourth of the commercial building workforce had left since the immigration measure was upheld last week. More than $7 billion each year is generated by the commercial construction industry in Alabama.