While Alabama Cracks Down on Illegal Immigration, Department of Labor Threatens Legal Variety


As portions of Alabama's law designed to curb illegal immigration remain on appeal, proposed changes by the U.S. Department of Labor to a federal visa program threaten to raise migrant labor costs by more than 50 percent in the state.

Jim King, vice president of natural resources for forestry management company Westervelt, estimates that the new hourly pay rate for workers in Alabama under the H-2B visa program would be between $13.06 and $21.16, depending on industry and county. King says that those workers currently make $7.25 to $8.37 per hour.

The Department of Labor claims that the proposed changes "focus on enhancing employee recruitment efforts for U.S. workers and strengthening the necessary protections for foreign workers brought here under this temporary program," according to USA Today.

But people in the Alabama's forestry and restaurant industries say that despite the struggling economy, Americans aren't willing to do the work that H-2B immigrant laborers do—a sentiment that should resonate with Colorado farmers who tried to hire locals after an increase in the H-2A minimum wage last summer. (The H-2A visa is similar to the H-2B but covers agricultural jobs.) Many of the domestic workers walked off the job saying that the work was too hard, and some Colorado farmers struggled to make harvest.

Chris Isaacson, executive vice president of the Alabama Forestry Association, says that even if Americans do fill these jobs, the proposed changes will increase the cost of replanting in Alabama "to the point where we believe many landowners will choose not to [re]plant."

Only 66,000 H-2B visas may be issued per year, and neither the H-2A nor the H-2B program offer a legal pathway to citizenship. Shikha Dalmia has noted for Reason:

[These temporary visas] are meant only for seasonal jobs and are self-liquidating. This means that once a worker has installed a piece of machinery or assisted a landscape company get through its peak season, the visa automatically expires.

With the Department of Labor's proposed changes set to take effect at the end of the month, those self-liquidating jobs might not even be an option as some Alabama employers will struggle to hire seasonal workers at all.

Read Dalmia on how illegal immigrants are not "queue-jumpers who illegally crossed the border ahead of those patiently waiting their turn," because "there is no such line—a legal pathway to citizenship for unskilled workers."

NEXT: Stay of Execution Granted for Hank Skinner Pending a DNA Test

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. FTFA,

      Toxicology tests and other investigations are ongoing as state police try to figure out why a man burned to death in a sport-utility vehicle parked in a western Pennsylvania Walmart parking lot.

      The Jacket at a Walmart? You must be joking or there are more hands in this plot than are apparent from the article.

      1. The article said nothing about The Jacket being found there, thank God.

    2. What a shame.
      BBQing should be at a low enough temperature not to burn the meat.

  1. Can’t they get some tree hugging hippies to plant the little trees, for love instead of money?

    1. They are all busy getting lice camping out at OWS.

      1. The tree growers need to rent some buses and send them to Manhattan for a free trip to “the belly of the beast.”

  2. Geez. If only there were some way to change the law to make it more efficient.

    That can, and should, be done, but for whatever reason, both parties refuse to do so. If voters force them, they will have no choice.

    So force them. If democrats could seize control of health insurance in the middle of the night, they could easily have done this too. They refused. Why?

    1. Why?

      Starts with a “U”. Ends with a “nion”.

  3. …more of these jobs could be filled by U.S. workers if they were aware of the opportunity and paid prevailing wages.”

    Davis-Bacon’ing seasonal migrant labor now? Wow, Hilda Solis, your Dept of Labor is on a roll.

  4. But people in the Alabama’s forestry and restaurant industries say that despite the struggling economy, Americans aren’t willing to do the work that H-2B immigrant laborers do?a sentiment that should resonate with Colorado farmers who tried to hire locals after an increase in the H-2A minimum wage last summer. (The H-2A visa is similar to the H-2B but covers agricultural jobs.) Many of the domestic workers walked off the job saying that the work was too hard, and some Colorado farmers struggled to make harvest.

    I support tripling the number of permanent immigration visas we give out as a matter of principle, but I have difficulty believing that we can’t get current Americans to harvest crops or plant trees. Out here in Bergen County, NJ, folks pay farmers for the privileged of picking crops and volunteer to plant things. They are so desperate for green volunteer jobs, that most of the local environmental nonprofits have volunteers weeding the forests.

    I think the problem isn’t that we can’t find Americans willing to pick crops or plant trees. The problem is that these Americans aren’t willing to live in Colorado or Alabama. It looks like there’s a niche for a nonprofit to bring East Coast volunteers to the heartland where they do manual labor. The forest or farm manager can pay the nonprofit a fee for their contribution.

    The WWF charges a few thousand dollars for ecotours in North America that net them a 5% to 10% profit. It’s all about the marketing.

  5. WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW?HURTS? Illegal Immigration, Voter fraud and E-Verify.

    Every American can do their part, to insure that ‘THE LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT’ (H.R.2885) and get to the floor of the House of Representatives. It’s the only way to get future satisfaction of saving the billions of dollars we give reluctantly, to illegal aliens. E-Verify–the bill would require 100% of businesses to begin using E-Verify for all new hires within 2 years and require all federal and state governments to check new hires and existing employees within 6 months. Although the official figures estimates there are only 11.5 million illegal aliens in the US, other reputable organizations exceeds this number by at least another 10 million. Of these 8.5 foreign nations have claimed a job unlawfully, while 22 to 24 million citizens and legally here residents are unemployed. These are non-agricultural numbers and this could be reduced by the immediate vote of ‘The legal Workforce Act.’

    Unknown numbers of illegal families began departing Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, with the introduction of harsh policing laws and headed for other states with more flexible immigration laws?California and Nevada included. Sanctuary States will be overwhelmed, with economic illegal aliens, looking for free money and other easy accessed welfare benefits. Thousands of American workers are already replacing the illegal absconders, as business have no option but to look elsewhere for labor. The days of cheap illegal labor is over and so are the big profits they have for years.

    There is no time to wait, as E-Verify must become mandatory, instead as it is now?voluntary. Hundreds of thousands of businesses are now hooked up to the electronic program and can now vet their workers. Businesses that are not using E-Verify needs to learn an expensive lesson of harsh fines, company profit confiscation and prison for hiring unauthorized labor. Rick Perry unlike most of the others, is true GOP establishment and not a member of the TEA PARTY leadership.

    Citizens and legal residents must challenge the Republicans dominated House and insist on E-Verify. The ‘Ways and Means Committee led by Majority Speak John Boehner (R-OH) must adopt the Mandatory E-Verify Bill (H.R. 2885.) and should be bombarded with insistent voters. Reps. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.), Tim Johnson (R-Ill.), Reps. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) , Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) have cosponsored House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith’s Legal Workforce Act (H.R.2885), with new members to sponsor in the forthcoming wings. Not sure what to do? Go to NumbersUSA web site, where you can freely fax politicians or you can also can locate them through this phone number at 202-224-312; the Congressional Switchboard.

    Monday, November 7, 2011 currently has 100 sponsors and 57 co-sponsors.

    Our freedoms and liberty are under constant attack by the Liberals, Democrats and even hard core Republicans, so that’s why everybody is fed up with the usual trash from Washington; ‘The Quid Pro Quo’ should join the massive population of the growing TEA PARTY. We must anticipate that in the 2011 Presidential race, the impending gubernatorial and state legislative elections in Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia will be electing governors. . In addition, 578 state legislative seats are available, with the majority of these in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia where the fate of politicians are in the hands of voters. ILLEGAL ALIENS HAVE BEEN VOTING AND WILL IN THE FUTURE. Democrats are looking the other way, as this has been happening nationwide. We must be watchful of Congressman as Keith Ellison, who could cripple our voting system. Ellison would weaken our nation’s policies even more so, than the voting regulations are already so poorly enforced.

    In agriculture, the dairy industry for decades they have been substantial subsidies, but that has not filtered through to the illegal workers. Poor wages and even poorer conditions will not bring US citizens and lawful residents to the farmers or others need. The American people are finally aware that the farmers do not pay for the hospital care in case of injury, sickness and that all their children go to public schools and these benefits; fall in to the US taxpayers lap to pay. Eventually a uniform system of tracking agricultural worker, with employment visa over-stays deported.

    Georgia’s Secretary of State’s office is obligated to administer elections and investigate allegations of voter fraud. Brian P. Kemp, who is Georgia Secretary of State, said that Georgia’s elections are among the most secure in the nation, and we take every measure possible to guarantee the integrity, security, and fairness of our elections process. Election voter fraud undermines the very foundations of our great state and country, and will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Then in the Liberal Progressive window or a leftist Democrat Congressman called Keith Ellison from Minnesota’s wants to impose on his state a slack election system and also on the rest of this sovereign nation. This moron has introduced two bills to impose the worst two aspects of Minnesota’s system on the entire country. This arrangement undermines election integrity and trust we used to share as citizens.

    This Democrat “Same Day Registration Act” H.R. 3316 and its attendant H.R. 3317 would involve all states to allow unconfirmed voters to register and vote on Election Day. This would be outrageous enough and is mild compared to being infuriated by the second bill, namely “Voter Access Protection Act,” which would forbid states from requiring voters to show photo ID. Perhaps 25 years ago?but not anymore, when we have notorious groups like Acorn, caught using low-life’s collecting hundreds of thousands of registrations, which should have been flushed down the toilet. Democrats are out to win the presidential race, in any way they can?and have, as ACORN was prosecuted by numerous state attorneys for fraudulent voter registrations. Its federal funding dropped a supposedly dismantled, but however it has resurfaced in New York under a new name. To me and I’m sure to tens of millions of TEA PARTY members this is beyond incredulous, that any politician would try to destroy what little is left of our freedoms. Under no restraint H.R. 3316, in expelling all photo identification necessities, and H.R. 3317, that would allow people to walk into a polling station, register and vote straight away in all 50 states. GOD HELP US!

    America can no longer support the poverty entering this country. If we don’t look after our own veterans, our own homeless, how we supposed to be the PPO health care for the world. This is an invitation to financial disaster, when large parts of the 16 percent living in poverty are illegal migrants and immigrants

    Rep. Ellison states his proposals are needed to “curb voter suppression” and shield the rights of young, elderly and minority voters, except photo ID laws in 14 other states have been challenged in America and state Supreme Courts and plaintiffs have no evidence that a single voter would be disenfranchised by those laws. Perhaps Mr. Ellison should investigate the growing trend of illegal aliens or even permanent residence, either by being misled by registration canvassers or using ‘The Motor Voter’ bill to vote. This is extremely dangerous in very close races and has been prevalent in many states throughout the nation. Hopefully the citizens of Vermont see through this reckless law, and drive this unpatriotic fool from Montpelier.

    The state of Georgia maintains a website for US citizens or any individual to inform the Secretary of State of violations in their voting law. In fact every American state should provide a website to report this serious wrongdoing, as it is undermining the basic foundation of citizen’s right to vote. This is not just a threat within a the polling stations, but where anybody could walk in and profess to be a citizen, Under bills introduced by Rep. Ellison brought to Congress or in his own state of Vermont would have irredeemable consequence to our electoral system. , One of the easiest documents to forge?is the absentee ballot. Outside of the influence of a Secretary of State’s Elections Division is easily compromised.

    We already have almost indescribable problems with the illegal aliens side-stepping our borders, or slipping through air terminals. Every American state should power their politicians to supply a law, that every American has a government photo ID to vote. In addition today when our country is carrying a near 15 Trillion deficit, we need to start repatriating all illegal foreign nationals. When our elderly cannot find a seat in a clogged emergency room, as the hospital has become overpopulated with illegal parents and their children. That these impoverished people have no conception of the cost for a minor infection, an Aspirin or major treatment. That these are unfunded mandates, which include the education of their many children, is carried by the US taxpayers.

    Overcrowded public school classroom, congested hospital emergency waiting rooms, is what’s seen above the surface?the massive financial costs are hidden below. Over a $113 Billion dollars is attributed to subsidizing foreign aliens, so surveyed by a Heritage foundation report.

    No matter where these undocumented are from, they must go home. This is where Lamar Smiths E-VERIFY is so urgently important. The ‘LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT’ will shift the legal responsibility, over to the employer. They will be charged with insuring every worker fills in a I-9 form and identifies the recipient, who has been hired. That the business owner checks their ‘Right to Work’ verification through the federal E-Verify process. Those who are ineligible can verify their lawful status, through appearing at the nearest Social Security office, to rectify any problem. Of course No Liberal associated newspaper pass this information, staying silent about any irregularities as they are determined to cripple any chance of this commonsense bill from becoming law.

    1. Cool story, bro.

      p.s. There is no such thing as “unauthorized” labor. You do not have the right to tell other people that they may or may not sell their labor to a willing buyer.

    2. Brittanicus|11.7.11 @ 7:06PM|#

      Also, our country faces a serious problem with Bloggers invading other people’s blogs and posting screeds on other people’s property, attempting desperately to piggyback on other blogs’ popularity, because their own nonsense doesn’t actually attract any traffic to their sites…

      this violation of Blog Sovereignty must end! Send these people back from whence they came!….

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.