Immigrant exodus could hurt Tuscaloosa rebuilding effort

Dennis Pillion of reports on the now-stunted storm repair due to a soon-to-be shortage of laborers from new Alabama legislation. Consitutional reform anyone?

I predicted that our new “goobernator*” would do something the moment I heard his swearing in speech. I just didn’t think he’d be this reckless, this stupid or this powerful enough to get it passed. I guess that means most of the unemployed population should learn construction real quick, huh?

Photos from the Forest Lake neighborhood off of 15th Street in Tuscaloosa on May 10, 2011. The area was devastated by a mile-wide tornado on April 27, 2011. Nearly two weeks later, the clean-up projects are just beginning. (Dennis Pillion/

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Undocumented immigrants are fleeing Tuscaloosa in droves before Alabama’s new immigration law takes effect, just when they are needed most to help rebuild a city devastated by a mile-wide tornado.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that as Tuscaloosa begins to rebuild the 5,300 buildings destroyed by the April 27 tornadoes, “Tuscaloosa County’s 6,000-strong Hispanic population—including roofers, drywallers, framers, landscapers, and laborers—is disappearing.”

Alabama’s new immigration law – billed as one of the toughest in the country – passed the state House and Senate by wide margins, but raised controversy within the state.

The bill takes effect Sept. 1, and requires all businesses to check the legal status of workers using a federal system called E-Verify, makes it a crime to knowingly give an illegal immigrant a ride, and requires schools to check immigration status. The law also authorizes police to question immigration status “where reasonable suspicion exists.”

There are concerns from the clergy. Law enforcement officers wonder where the funding will come from. The Birmingham City Council** passed a resolution condemning the bill, and U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus of Vestavia Hills said this bill isn’t the answer to Alabama’s immigration problems.

The bill, which sponsor Sen. Scott Beason said would “put thousands of Alabamians back in the workforce,” may create a void in certain critical industries.

“Hispanics, documented and undocumented, dominate anything to do with masonry, concrete, framing, roofing, and landscaping,” Bob McNelly, a contractor with Nash-McCraw Properties, said in the Bloomberg story. “There are very few subcontractors I work with that don’t have a Hispanic workforce.”

Related topics: April 27 2011 storms, immigration

via Immigrant exodus could hurt Tuscaloosa rebuilding effort |

*Quoted from my 11th grade history teacher “Rey Rey” Reynolds, but I bet the man is onto something there

**Hey! The BCC is doing something smart! Way to use your heads, guys. I’m so proud of you!


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