Illegal immigrants in Alabama are selling off household items such as microwaves and sofas in preparation to leave the state if a tough new law goes into effect Sept. 1.
The Birmingham News' David White collects anecdotal evidence that some of the estimated 120,000 unauthorized immigrants in the state are considering leaving or have already left because they worry they would be arrested and deported under the new law.
An operations manager for a Spanish-language radio provider told White that people are calling in to try to sell trucks, sofas, microwaves and other household items to listeners. "They say they're leaving. They kind of tell you that at the end, so people feel bad for them and buy the item," Orlando Rosa of Rivera Communications said.
A Spanish-language translator who works with immigrants told White that some are waiting to see if the law will be blocked before the school year begins, because they don't want to school officials to request proof of their children's citizenship under the new law. One illegal immigrant with two children who are American citizens told White he has sold his truck so he can go back to Mexico with some extra money if the law goes into effect.
Like Arizona's controversial SB1070 law, the Alabama legislation requires police officers to ask for immigration papers during routine stops if they suspect a person may be in the country illegally. The Alabama law also criminalizes transporting or "harboring" illegal immigrants and makes it a state crime for an illegal immigrant to seek or perform work. (Under federal law, overstaying a visa is a civil offense, and entering the country without papers is a misdemeanor crime.) The American Civil Liberties Union has sued to block the law.
After Arizona's law passed last year, one research team estimated that 100,000 Latinos left the state, though the researchers were unable to determine what percentage of them were immigrants, legal or illegal. The Mexican government said 23,380 of its citizens moved back from Arizona over the same period. A federal judge blocked the Arizona law before it could go into effect, ruling that it interfered with the federal government's control over immigration law.