Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn recently upheld the majority of the provisions of Alabama’s immigration enforcement law. She specifically supported the pieces that will allow state and local police to request immigration papers during routine traffic stops, make most contracts with illegal immigrants unenforceable and force schools to determine the immigration status of children when they register.

On Wednesday night, Albertville’s Hispanic immigrants responded by promptly leaving the state. The state’s governor acknowledged it as “the strongest immigration law in this country”, and its presence was felt. Even though her ruling is under appeal by the Justice Department and a coalition of civil rights groups, the law went into effect immediately. The response to it was immediate as well. 

The state has felt the impact of sudden move. Last Friday, 1,988 Hispanic students were absent from school on Friday-roughly 5 percent of the school system’s Hispanic population.  According to John Weathers, a local businessman who rents and sells houses to large number of Hispanic residents, occupancy dipped by 25 percent and could continue to decline. Two people who had paid off their mortgages even asked if they could sell their homes back to him.

Grocery stores and restaurants have even felt this great vacancy, as several employees are no longer around. Albertville had been a friendly place for Hispanic immigrants, especially over the past ten years, which has seen most of the signs on Main Street become bilingual.

So far, farmers, contractors and home builders have been the most critical of the law because they were literally left assed out over night. Supporters of the law agree that it’s left a gaping hole, but will work in the long run. Time will reveal whether or not that’s accurate, but one thing is certain: the Hispanic immigrants have left Albertville.

Maybe they made the right choice.

[via New York Times]