In the early years, when immigrants first arrived in Albertville, the things that bothered the locals weren’t the things you usually hear about when people talk about immigration. Not jobs or wages or crime.
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Latino residents decided to organize a peaceful march in support of a path to legal status, and their white neighbors were shocked when 5,000 people poured into the streets.
Suddenly realizing just how many Latinos had moved to town, longtime residents jumped into action, fueled by a wave of national and statewide anti-immigration fever. Then in 2011, Alabama adopted the most extreme anti-immigrant law in the country.
One of the things we were excited to investigate when we went to Alabama was to answer the question at the heart of the immigration debate: what does it cost taxpayers when we let in millions of immigrants, documented and undocumented? In Albertville, how much was it? We asked economist Kim Rueben and her colleague Erin Huffer to run the numbers.
In 2012, the fever broke, and the Albertville city council stopped targeting Latino residents. The mayor says he and the council are taking a cue from the public schools.
We’ve visited Albertville, Alabama many times now, to figure out exactly what happened when the population shifted from 98% white in 1990, to a fourth Latino twenty years later.
We hear the companies’ side—they have a totally different story to tell than the workers. We also go to one of the leading researchers on the economic effects of immigrants, Giovanni Peri, who chairs the economics department at UC Davis. He and researcher Justin Wiltshire did a study for us on what happened to wages and jobs in Albertville.
A guy in Key West makes a series of grand gestures, each one more outrageous than the last. He goes so far that we need to say that this story, from Miki Meek, is not for kids.