The Daily Caller is attempting to rehabilitate Alabama following the considerable backlash the state has received from passing the country's toughest and most controversial immigration law. In trying to manufacture positive press for Alabama, however, the Caller resorted to manufacturing truth.
In an article pointing to just-released government numbers that show a drop in Alabama's unemployment rate, the Daily Caller suggested the lower rate is attributable to the immigration law. It argued -- with support from the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies -- that the data showed that previously unemployed Americans in Alabama are scooping up the jobs left behind by undocumented immigrants who have since deserted the state:
September was the first full month that the reform was in force, and the unemployment rate fell from 9.8 percent in September to 9.3 percent in October, according to a Nov. 18 report from the state government.
The rates fell from 9.9 percent to 9 percent in Etowah County, from 8.8 percent to 8.1 percent in Marshall county, and from 11.6 percent to 10.6 percent in DeKalb county.
"The latest fall in unemployment numbers is proof that American citizens will work, and continues to solidify [the evidence] that self-deportation [by illegal immigrants] due to the Alabama Taxpayer & Citizen's Protection Act is occurring," said Chuck Ellis, a city council member in Albertville -- the main town in Marshall County, northern Alabama.
The article went on to quote Steven Camerota from CIS, a purported "research" firm that is part of the nativist and anti-immigrant network created by controversial activist John Tanton. But all CIS is known for is distorting the realities of immigration. From the article:
"The fact is that those who want illegal immigrants to leave have sound reasons for doing that, and one is to free up some jobs at the bottom end of the labor market," said Steven Camarota, direct of research at the Center for Immigration Studies. The center's motto is "low immigration, pro immigrant."
"It is only one month of data, so we have to be careful, but it is a reminder of what the state legislature is trying to do," he said.
The article added:
The new unemployment data is muddied, however, by routine changes in the unemployment situation. For example, state and federal jobless benefits expire and prompt residents to take jobs they otherwise would not have taken.
But "the fact the unemployment rate is down all over [the] state is a positive sign to me that the immigration bill is doing what it was designed to do, and that is put Alabamians back to work," Matt Arnold, Marshall County's economic development chief, told local newspaper The Sand Mountain Reporter.
In fact, Alabama is hardly the only state that saw a drop in unemployment -- it was the national trend. Not only that, but Alabama's unemployment rate has been dropping for the past four months. As the Associated Press reported:
Alabama's unemployment rate has dropped one-half percentage point to 9.3 percent, which is the fourth consecutive month of improvement, according to statistics released Friday.
"I'm about ready to call it a trend," said Alabama's industrial relations director, Tom Surtees.
October was the first full month for major portions of Alabama's tough immigration law to be in effect. The Legislature passed the law to open up jobs for legal residents, but Surtees said there is nothing in the statistics to indicate whether the law is having an impact.
That's because Alabama's drop mirrored a national decline from 9.1 percent in September to 9.0 in October. Every Alabama county recorded a lower unemployment rate in October. Three of Alabama's neighbors -- Georgia, Tennessee and Florida -- had lower unemployment rates. And the seasonally adjusted unemployment figures don't include farm jobs, which some laborers abandoned when the immigration law went into effect in late September.
The Birmingham News further reported:
Figures from the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations show that the state created 9,700 jobs in October. Most of the gains were in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, the government sector, and the professional and business services sector.
Ahmad Ijaz, a University of Alabama economist, said he believes it is a stretch to credit the immigration law for Alabama's declining unemployment numbers. He said it is too soon to tell whether the law is actually creating jobs for state residents.
"The decline in unemployment is mostly because of seasonal hiring and fewer workers in the labor force," he said.
The Daily Caller's article comes on the heels of a German manager with Mercedes-Benz being arrested in Alabama over the weekend for failing to show a driver's license when stopped by police. Under the state's immigration law, failing to have proper identification is cause for arrest. The manager was apparently in Alabama on a business visit. According to The Local, an English-language website in Germany, Mercedes' plant near Tuscaloosa "provides more than 22,000 jobs and is Alabama's largest exporter, sending $1 billion (€743 million) in exports throughout the world."