House Majority Leader Micky Hammon is the international face of Decatur. For a year, his image and words have been splayed around the globe.
People have read about his crusade against foreigners in Japan, home to Decatur’s Daikin America, Toray Fluorofibers and Toray Carbon Fibers plants. They have read about his disdain for undocumented immigrants in England, home to BP. They have heard his rants in South Korea, home to Hyosung, and in India, home to Polyplex.
They have seen his intolerance in Taiwan, home to AlphaPet.
Over and over they heard Decatur’s state representative proudly proclaim that his law “attacks every aspect of an illegal alien’s life.” They heard him justify his law with statistics on the growth of “illegal aliens” in Alabama, only to discover he was using data on the growth of the entire Hispanic population.
And foreigners must have puzzled over Alabamians’ indignant claims that they did not care what the world community thought, claims that Alabama was unperturbed that foreigners saw little difference between this racially motivated law and previous ones aimed at blacks.
Puzzled, because people in those countries know Decatur cares very much what they think. Decatur spends millions trying to convince their companies it welcomes foreigners, and those companies provide us with many of our jobs.
It is sad in this Holy Week to be speaking of the economic impact of Hammon’s law, for the moral stain left by the law has little to do with money.
When Decatur Utilities — obedient to Hammon’s command — announced it would deny water to the thirsty, it had to ignore greater commands.
Before courts could undo the damage, the law separated parents from their children and destroyed businesses that provided livelihoods.
Alabama did not merely spurn the needy, it marshaled its police power to pursue them.
Hammon has not heeded the cries of the immigrants or of his many constituents who were horrified at their plight.
Maybe his colleagues will heed the overwhelming evidence that the law is hurting the state’s economy, both by depriving it of labor and by raising another barrier to foreign investment.
Hammon has made clear he will not support significant changes to the law, even though three federal courts have made preliminary rulings that most of it is unconstitutional.
We hope other legislators — whether motivated by the words of a man whose loving sacrifice we honor this week or by economic realities — will remove this blight from Alabama.