By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis visited Alabama last week and said: “H.B. 56 has scared away so many hard-working men and women who work on the farms and in the fields.”
At the anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights Marches Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said, “Yes, we gather tonight in the shadows of history at a time of challenge and uncertainty here in Alabama. Last year brought fresh attacks on the right to vote, the right to organize, the right to receive a quality public education and, for some, even the right to hold a job or walk down the street without fear.”
Secretary Solis said, “We know that having 50 different immigration laws in 50 different states is unworkable.” “We disagree with the approach taken here in Alabama, in Arizona, in South Carolina, and Utah. Not just because it is threatens to undermine our basic values of fairness and equality, but also because the No. 1 issue in America today is getting our economy back on track and laws like this harm everyone.”
Sec. Solis said, “This fight is about more than immigration policy; it’s about Alabama’s economic future. Mayor Day (Thomasville, AL) talks about the many hard-working legal immigrants in his town who fled the state out of fear. He says Latino workers have been instrumental to the local timber industry for many years. He says they pay their taxes and support their community. But now they’re leaving — and jobs and businesses are going with them.”
Stand up, AFL-CIO! Stand up, SEIU! Stand up, AFSCME! Stand up, CWA! Stand up, teachers! Where are my Steelworkers and Mineworkers? Stand up! If you are a proud member of America’s labor movement, stand up and be counted!
Secretary of Labor Solis continued, “We need a 21st century immigration system that works for our economy, our employers and our families. We know that America depends on Alabama’s agriculture industry. But H.B. 56 has scared away so many hard-working men and women who work on the farms and in the fields. It has been especially hard on the state’s poultry producers. Many Latino workers worked proudly in this area, and Alabama’s farmers depended on their work ethic and their knowledge. But now they’re facing critical workforce shortages. The Alabama Farmers Federation estimates losses of $63 million if farmers can’t regain access to a stable labor supply. And that could just be the tip of the iceberg.”
Secretary Solis said, “The people of Alabama are counting on their leaders to bring new jobs and new industries to the state and that means working together.” “There is still time for lawmakers to do the right thing for Alabama’s economy. Until that happens, my department is letting all workers here know they still have the right to be paid the federal minimum wage. No state law can take that away.” “And my department is also fighting the exploitation of Latinos and other immigrants who work in the state, and we’ll continue to stand up for all of our Alabama brothers and sisters.”
Supportes of H.B. 56 meanwhile point to the fact that since the state’s anti-illegal immigration bill has been passed Alabama’s unemployment has dropped to its lowest level in three years and urge the federal government to do more to enforce federal immigration laws.
To see Secretary Solis’s statement in its entirety: