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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Anti-Immigration Chickens Come Home To Roost

When Alabama enacted the nation’s most draconian law forcing law enforcement officers and school administrators to become immigration cops, you had to figure it was just a matter of time before it produced some consequences that the brave nativist legislators responsible for this travesty might come to regret. For some, the “uh oh” moment might have occurred when it became apparent that many millions of dollars worth of spring crops were rotting in the fields because no one was there to do the backbreaking work of harvesting them.
But now Alabama is coming to grips with an even more richly ironic bit of blowback: a German Mercedes executive was arrested and briefly sent to the slammer in Tuscaloosa after failing to produce a passport when his rental car was pulled over. As you may know, Tuscaloosa is near the site of a large Mercedes plant that Alabama secured in 1993 after giving away a big chunk of the state’s revenue base in abatements and other subsidies. It is the golden calf of the South’s frenzied pursuit of foreign auto plants in recent decades, and more generally, of the region’s sad return to smokestack-chasing, corporate-subsidizing economic development strategies.
So in Alabama, locking up a Mercedes exec as a funny-looking furriner is sort of the functional equivalent of the Swiss Guards arresting the Pope on suspicion that he might vandalize the Sistine Chapel.
Since Alabama lawmakers have not been moved by the human and economic tragedy of thousands of productive farm and construction workers leaving the state thanks to its immigration law, perhaps this farce involving the all-powerful “job creator” from Germany will finally turn some heads.

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