He journeyed to Chandler Mountain in northeast Alabama on Monday to meet with farmers whose fields are not being harvested. The immigrant workers who usually show up to pick tomatoes at $2 per box are not there this year, scared away by Beason’s bill, which he and Gov. Robert Bentley seem so happy about.
Those farmers he met with on the mountain were not happy at all. They gave Beason an ear full, but he didn’t seem to get it. The legislator told those folks he was not in favor of exemptions for farming and they would just have to hire someone else.
When a farmer explained that it was next to impossible to hire others to do the work, Beason was not impressed. The farmer held a bucket and asked Beason if he would like to try his hand at picking tomatoes to see how difficult the work is. Beason declined but promised to see what he could do to help farmers while trying to keep illegal immigrants out of Alabama.
The farmer threw down the bucket.
“There, I figured it would be like that,” the farmer said.
Beason and the other backers of this harsh bill apparently see no irony in the fact that they included an exemption for those hiring day workers off the side of the roads, but didn’t offer exemptions for farmers.
Of course, most of those hired off the side of the road will be cutting grass, raking leaves and doing other menial work in the exalted neighborhoods of Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Hoover and all the other over the mountain enclaves around Birmingham. They are a constituency Beason can’t ignore.
But he can and did ignore the farmers’ needs.
“My position is to stay with the law as it is,” he told the farmers. “This law will be in effect this entire growing season,” Beason said.
And this was after farmers told him their crops were rotting in the fields and they face economic disaster.
Sen. Beason either doesn’t get it or he just doesn’t care.