Who Needs Immigrant Labor When You Have Prison Inmates?
Now that the country’s most restrictive anti-immigration law has been enacted in Alabama, a large portion of the Hispanic community has disappeared from the streets, afraid to leave their homes for work or school.
One of the impetuses behind the bill was the notion that somehow the undocumented laborers were “stealing” all of the jobs in the state, with farms and other businesses hiring them for near slave wages rather than pay minimum wage to legal workers. With the pool of sub-minimum wage workers gone, the jobs are open and up for grabs, and should put many legal, unemployed Alabamans back to work, right?
Wrong. Having no interest in losing such cheap labor, many are looking for another way to get the job done without increasing their own expenses.
They’re turning to prison inmates. And it has the blessing of the government.
According to Politico, John McMillan, commissioner of the Alabama Dept. of Agriculture and Industries, is encouraging the state’s farmers to obtain cheap labor through the state’s worker release program, offering “a short-term solution to the sudden labor shortage that has hit Alabama since enforcement of its illegal immigration law kicked in.” Which means that once more the jobs that regular citizens are being promised were an illusion created to get buy in to push their own agenda — in this case making the state inhospitable to undocumented immigrants.
But in a way it makes perfect sense. Destroy the economy. Lay off workers. Create no new jobs but low wage ones, and let people go into debt trying to care for their families. Once they no longer have any way to pay all of their bills, we can go back to putting people in “debtor’s prison.”
After all, we’ll have plenty of jobs available for the prison workforce if we get the undocumented immigrants out of them. And this way, we won’t have to cut into anyone’s profits to pay living wages.
Photo by Olek Remesz via Wikimedia Commons