Alabama Gets Airbus Factory, Defying Critics of Immigration Crackdown

Neil Munro, Daily Caller, July 3, 2012

Alabama is getting a new high-tech aircraft factory and 1,000 high-wage jobs, despite warnings from progressive groups that the state’s immigration reform would frighten away investors.

“The naysayers were hoping it would,” said state Rep. Mike Ball. But “the immigration law doesn’t make any difference to the foreign companies—if they’re legal, they know they’re welcome, and we have a competitive environment where they can make a profit,” said Ball, a former police detective.

“More jobs for sweet home Alabama,” said Chuck Ellis, a councilman in the city of Albertville.

“Once again the state of Alabama has taken the ‘but’ out of the liberals’ [warning]—’So you’ve got your immigration reform law, BUT now industry will go to other states to do their business,’” he wrote.

The aircraft factory was announced July 2 by Airbus, which is Europe’s largest aircraft maker and the primary worldwide rival to Boeing. Other states competed against Alabama for the factory, partly by offering state aid.

The 1,000 Airbus employees will assemble four A-320 jets a month by 2017 and will support many additional jobs in the state, whose unemployment rate has fallen faster since 2009 than nearly any other state in the country. The state’s drop is only outdone by Michigan, which benefited from huge federal subsidies for the auto industry.

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The state’s popular immigration law, HB 56, was passed in July 2011, despite fierce opposition from Democrats. It was intended to curb companies’ use of illegal immigrant labor, and has successfully opened up many jobs to Alabama residents, including Hispanics and African-Americans.

Judges have barred some portions of Alabama’s immigration law, and it may be further curbed because of the Supreme Court’s June decision to sharply restrict states’ authority to protect legal residents from illegal immigration. {snip}

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The immigration reform was passed by “a xenophobic and anti-immigrant local government,” said Moises Naim, an advocate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The anti-immigrant law is in direct conflict with the pro-foreign investment posture of the State,” he wrote in December 2011.

Naim did not respond to The Daily Caller’s request for a comment about the Airbus factory.

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