Backlash Against Alabama’s Southern Inhospitality

Apparently nobody in Alabama anticipated what a big fail their harsh new immigration law would be. Business interests brought Republicans to power in the state, after all; one of the end results of the new Republican majority was the nation’s most spiteful and merciless immigration laws. And guess what? Turns out hating on immigrants hasn’t been a winner for Alabama’s business. Well I do declare!

After driving Alabama’s farm labor out of the state, then sweeping up such “dangerous” criminals as a Japanese Honda executive and a German Mercedes executive, businesses are telling Alabama’s Republicans that this immigrant-hating really isn’t working for them:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Republicans who pushed through the nation’s toughest law against illegal immigrants are having second thoughts amid a backlash from big business, fueled by the embarrassing traffic stops of two foreign employees tied to the state’s prized Honda and Mercedes plants.

The Republican attorney general is calling for some of the strictest parts of it to be repealed.

Some Republican lawmakers say they now want to make changes in the law that was pushed quickly through the Legislature.

Those “strictest parts” are things like requiring public schools, hospitals and social service agencies to collect everyones’ immigration status and making it illegal for legal immigrants to be out and about without their paperwork. The law criminalizes churches which serve illegal immigrants in any way, be it offering food at a soup kitchen or Sunday Communion in worship. It’s just such great Southern hospitality down there. /sarcasm

Here’s the part that gets me:

“Up until a few months ago, nobody raised the immigration issue,” he said. But, in the past few months, it has been brought up regularly. Day suspects competing states are portraying Alabama as hostile to foreigners even though he says that is not the truth. Based on the questions he gets from industrial prospects, he also believes competing states are recounting stories from Alabama’s civil- rights past.

“It’s bringing back old images from 40 or 50 year ago,” he said.

The governor says he has declined many national TV interviews about the law because he doesn’t want to fuel comparisons with what he sees as Alabama’s long-gone past. “It’s going to take us a long time to outlive those stereotypes that are out there among people that Alabama is living in the ’50s and ’60s,” Bentley said.

Oh gee, no one ever thought that being intolerant to immigrants would remind everyone of when the South was intolerant to African Americans. Nobody could have anticipated this! /more sarcasm

And get a load of the chicken-shit-in-chief, Gov. Bentley. Running away from the cameras because personal responsibility is something for other people, right? Alabama’s Republican majority finally cleared the way for this immigrant hate — Democrats had blocked similar legislation for years — and now the Governor doesn’t want to be put in the position of having to defend what is obviously so indefensible. He doesn’t want to answer the question: why did you sign this bill?

Of course, some Alabama Republicans have behaved absolutely true to form. Take Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, who credits the law for the state’s measly half-a-percent drop in the unemployment rate. He says:

If there has been any damage, he said, it’s the fault of inaccurate portrayals in the news media. He said the media ought to be reporting: “This law establishes a safer, more secure environment for people to come here and invest.”

Yes, that’s how you do it. Double down on the stupid and blame the media when the rest of the world recoils in horror at the law you passed.

Here’s the part I love. Thought it’s received scant attention, there has been significant opposition to the law. Churches and faith-based groups have been organizing, marching and protesting. In June, the Birmingham City Council unanimously voted in support of a resolution condemning the law. The ACLU and cvil rights groups have filed suit against the law. The Dept. of Justice has filed a lawsuit.

None of this caused Alabama Republicans to bat an eyelash before, in fact, they dug their heels in further. Just last month Alabama’s House Speaker Mike Hubbard said:

MOBILE, Alabama — The Alabama Legislature will not repeal the state’s controversial immigration law, and will consider only minor changes when lawmakers convene in February, House Speaker Mike Hubbard said Tuesday.

“Are we open to pulling the bill back and repealing it? Absolutely not,” Hubbard said during a luncheon speech in Mobile. “We’re not going to back up on it.”

No, the bill would be “tweaked” and “strengthened,”

“to make it more defensible, to make it more enforceable.”

Now that businesses are saying they’ve got a problem, of course, we’re looking at major chunks of the bill being ditched. Now that Alabama looks like it’s still stuck in the Jim Crow past and big businesses are saying they don’t want the bill, there’s major walk-back.

Alabama Republicans didn’t mind when the churches said they were behaving un-Christian. But when business tells them to jump, it’s yessirree. That’s about typical, isn’t it?

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Backlash Against Alabama’s Southern Inhospitality

  1. Now that Alabama looks like it’s still stuck in the Jim Crow past

    Looks like?!?

    Cheers!
    JzB

  2. D.

    I’m waiting until they have to eat that entire bill before I bake the Schadenfreude pie that Alabama’s gratuitous xenophobia deserves.

  3. Randy

    “Oh gee, no one ever thought that being intolerant to immigrants would remind everyone of when the South was intolerant to African Americans. Nobody could have anticipated this!”

    Alabama lawmakers have neither hindsight or foresight. To attribute contemplation to their policy decisions is a false assumption.

  4. Min

    “The law criminalizes churches which serve illegal immigrants in any way, be it offering food at a soup kitchen or Sunday Communion in worship.”

    Where’s a little providential smiting when one really needs it?

  5. Mike G

    “This law establishes a safer, more secure environment for people to come here and invest.”

    Sure. The Repukes will fix the law by giving “Honorary White Murkan” status to foreign auto executives, like apartheid South Africa used to give “honorary white” status to Japanese businessmen. Then they can get back to harrasssing brown poor people.