Rep. Brooks Credits Alabama's Immigration Law With Declining Unemployment Rate

November 23, 2011 10:14 am ET — Salvatore Colleluori

Appearing Monday on Fox Business Channel, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) claimed there was a relationship between his state's declining unemployment rate and the adoption in June of its draconian immigration law, crediting "our bill that the state legislature passed to address the illegal alien issue" with a "statewide drop in unemployment rate." When host Neil Cavuto pushed back, noting that "your general economy in the state is picking up," Brooks responded, "I'm sure that the illegal alien apologists will come up with other explanations" and insisted that the immigration law deserved credit.

BROOKS: If you look at the Pew Hispanic Center, they have estimated that about 7.4 million jobs in America are held by illegal aliens. Well, Alabama has its share. You can look at our statewide drop in unemployment rate since we have resolved some of the litigation issues associated with our bill that the state legislature passed to address the illegal alien issue. You can look at sanctuary states, like the state of California — unemployment rate at 11.9 percent versus Alabama's 9.3. We're making slow but sure progress. Other states that like illegal aliens coming into their neck of the woods aren't doing so well. [...]

I'm sure that the illegal alien apologists will come up with other explanations, but we've had one county, for example, Marshall County, Albertville, Guntersville, in the Tennessee Valley, they had a high concentration of illegal aliens, working in places like chicken processing plants. Their unemployment rate dropped almost a full 2 percentage points. Let's face it. If illegal aliens leave the state of Alabama, that opens up a lot of jobs, a lot of opportunities for American citizens, and that's what we are seeing happen.

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But experts dispute Brooks' assertion, which echoed the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Mickey Hammon (R). Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees, who heads the agency that produces Alabama's job numbers reports, said that "he had no evidence supporting the argument the new law had affected the numbers -- or evidence against it."

Economist Keivan Deravi was willing to stake a little more on his analysis, stating he would "tear up his PhD" if the unemployment statistics had anything to do with the immigration law. Instead, according to Deravi, the unemployment rate is down because a "large number of people dropped out of the job market, they gave up." That's backed up by Alabama Department of Industrial Relations statistics, which show that since June Alabama's labor force has shrunk by 13,884, including 6,258 people dropping out between just September and October. But Brooks, who has said that evicting all illegal immigrants from America would be a "surefire" jobs plan, isn't likely to be persuaded.

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