Our opinion of the law has not changed. It is mean-spirited and poorly planned. It is a blight on the state’s reputation. It is hurting Alabama in more ways than we’d like to count.
It doesn’t need an overhaul. It needs repealing.
Barring that, it is almost comical how the bill’s supporters in Montgomery are defending their creation against the barrage of damning information produced by the University of Alabama Center for Business and Economic Research. The center’s report on the bill and its long-term effects provides the strongest arguments yet on why the state Legislature would be wise to send this bill to the wastebin of bad ideas.
A snippet from the report: The Beason-Hammon Act may save the state money from a reduction in public benefits to illegal immigrants, but it will also reduce the state’s gross domestic product from between $2.3 billion to $10.8 billion.
Additionally, the center says collections from state sales taxes and income taxes may fall between $56 million to $264 million, and sales-tax collections from local municipalities could be reduced by as much as $20 million to $93 million.
In other words, the loss of thousands of illegal immigrants equates to the loss of thousands of residents who buy food and clothing, pay rent and light bills and are part of the economic machine that drives tax collections — which, in turn, pay for much of the state’s civic entities such as schools and city services.
Yet, critics of the University of Alabama report are labeling it as yet another liberal, agenda-driven attempt to discredit the law’s true intent. State Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, continues to use failed logic that the bill is directly responsible for putting thousands of Alabamians back to work.
The report is “baloney,” Hammon told The Huntsville Times. “It’s clear the study overestimates the negative and underestimates the positive to skew the result toward an agenda. If 40,000 illegal workers leave the state, they free up jobs that homegrown Alabamians are happy to have.”
Yes, Alabama’s unemployment rate has dramatically decreased in recent months — good news, indeed — but to attribute that largely to the Beason-Hammon Act is foolish. Even in recession years, hiring always rises during the holiday season, and many of Alabama’s notable industries were already showing signs of recovery before the immigration bill became law.
Plus, we’d like to ask Rep. Hammon, how many of the low-wage laborer jobs once held by departed illegal immigrants have been gobbled up by out-of-work Alabamians accustomed to working in factories, offices, stores and warehouses? Studies and first-hand reports from Alabama farmers about the notion that Alabamians are clamoring to the back-breaking work of harvesting fruit and vegetables have proven that it is just that, a notion.
It is downright scary to hear Samuel Addy, the economist who wrote the center’s report, say that HB56 “has been, and will continue to be, an economic disaster for the state of Alabama.” If wavering critics of this law need more impetus to view the Hammon-Beason Act as harmful, this is it.