Meet Alabama Republican State Senator, Scott Beason, one of the sponsors and co-authors of the June immigration legislation that has now become the harshest in the nation and the man who last month referred to blacks as ‘aborigines.’
The Beason-supported law now makes it a state crime to be in Alabama unlawfully or to not carry proper immigrant documentation; allows police in Alabama to demand “papers” showing citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops and requires them to transport drivers whose license information cannot be determined to a magistrate to determine immigration status. Those determined to be in the country unlawfully can be detained until prosecution or until they are handed over to federal authorities.
Except it seems Beason and his colleagues did not think of their farm-owning constituents when pushing this law; a move that has him now facing the ire of this group.
You see it’s almost tomato picking time in many farms in Alabama, except this year there are no migrant workers around to do the back breaking work of picking and hauling around heavy buckets of tomatoes, thanks to one of the state’s new tough laws.
Undocumented migrants are leaving Alabama and running scared since a federal court judge upheld portions of the laws and allowed the harshest to go into effect.
On October 2nd, Sen. Beason, (R-Gardendale), got quite an earful from some farmers and was even boldly challenged to pick up a full bucket of tomatoes.
The challenge, from Chad Smith, of the Smith family farm in Alabama, proved the point that many in the immigrant advocacy community have been saying for too long. Not only did Beason decline to pick up the bucket of tomatoes to simply get a sense of the weight undocumented migrants chug around daily, but his inaction made the case clear – neither will the majority of Americans; which is why the vegetables in Alabama will be rotting.
The reality is, despite the high unemployment rate, no legal American wants to work on a farm, doing the hard, callus-inflicting job of picking, packing and hauling fruit and vegetables daily. Especially since the farmers said they get about $10 a box for their tomatoes and the workers get just $2 of that.
Mr. Smith, who says his tomatoes are rotting on the vine, summed it up accurately after Beason failed to take up his challenge. According to the Associated Press, Smith threw down the bucket he offered Beason and said, “There, I figured it would be like that.”
Smith is just one farmer angry about the new law that they are now reaping the backlash of. Lana Boatwright, another farmer, says the row-upon-row of ripening tomatoes on her farm are almost ready to be harvested but they most likely won’t, as there is no labor to pick them.
And she is no lawmaker but her solution is so practical and sensible she should run for office. “These people want to make a living. Make them pay taxes – that’s fine, they don’t mind,” Boatwright told Fox6. “Hopefully one day the federal government will streamline some of their processes when temporary workers who come through like they used to do, two or three decades ago, come through, pick those crops (and)move onto the next place where those crops are ripening.”
It is now time for farmers across America, annoyed with the failure to pass real immigration reform in this country, to take their anger to Washington and offer the lawmakers who are above the reality of life in every day America some of Boatwright’s advice. The solution is simple – a work permit and travel document to all morally upstanding, hard working undocumented immigrant who can contribute to the economy and coffers of America as generations have done before.
The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.