After Hispanic field workers left Alabama following its new strict immigration law, tomato farmers in northeast Birmingham experienced a labor shortage, according to an AP article. Jerry Spencer, chief-executive of the Birmingham-based Grow Alabama, tried to recruit unemployed U.S. workers to replace the lost workers. But after two weeks, Spencer said that “the experiment is a failure” because they couldn’t handle the difficult manual labor and most gave up after a few days.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley insists that people want to fill these job vacancies. According to the AP article, his administration said that 200 people are signed up for the program, but “only one employer has sought one worker.” Last week his administration announced a program that lets Alabamians sign up for agricultural and other jobs that are now facing a labor shortage.


This article did a good job of examining a consequence of the new Alabama immigration law. At the same time it highlighted an ongoing argument surrounding the immigration debate: does America need these undocumented people to fill an important part of our labor force, and are Americans willing to do the types of jobs that illegal immigrants are doing? 

I would have liked an explanation of why the Governor’s and Spencer’s opinion of the program were so different. It also might have been good to have a quote from an unemployed worker about the program.

-Cristabelle Tumola