Citizens in Tuscaloosa, Ala., worry that the recently passed Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act may hinder tornado reconstruction efforts, as Hispanic illegal aliens flee the State, fearing prosecution. The new law, touted as “the strongest immigration bill in the country” by Governor Robert Bentley, in part requires employers to use the Federal E-Verify system to make sure their workers are in the country legally.
“They’re leaving now, right now,” Ever Duarte, head of the city’s Hispanic soccer league, told Bloomberg. “I know people who are packing up tonight. They don’t want to wait to see what happens. It started last week. Our league had 12 teams the week before that. Last week, it was eight.”
Much of Tuscaloosa was devastated by the tornadoes that hit the town on April 27, carving a path of rubble three-quarters of a mile wide and six miles long and killing 43 people. Some citizens have expressed concern that reconstruction efforts will fail to find enough workers.
“Hispanics, documented and undocumented, dominate anything to do with masonry, concrete, framing, roofing and landscaping,” Bob McNelly, a contractor with Nash-McCraw Properties, told the news service. “There are very few subcontractors I work with that don’t have a Hispanic workforce… It’s not the pay rate. It’s the fact that they work harder than anyone. It’s the work ethic.”
However, not all Tuscaloosa residents believe illegal aliens are necessary to do the job.
“There are plenty of people capable of working, if they’d just get off their butts and do it,” Rich Cooper, a contractor with Bell Construction, told the news service.