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CBS Hypes 'Second Thoughts' About Alabama Law on Illegal Immigration

Wednesday's CBS Evening News featured a report by correspondent Mark Strassmann playing up the reservations that some are having about the new law to strictly enforce immigration laws in Alabama.

After noting that a poll supposedly shows that Latino voters are disatisfied because the Obama administration has deported record numbers of illegal immigrants, substitute anchor Jeff Glor introduced Strassmann's piece by playing up the "second thoughts" that some supporters of the law are having: "Mark Strassmann went to Alabama, where some are having second thoughts now about a tough new law."

Strassmann began his report by focusing on a construction business owner who supports the new law as he argued that his competitors have not been able to undercut him by hiring illegal immigrants. Strassmann then switched to Mayor Sheldon Day of Thomasville, Alabama, who argued that foreign investors are concerned about the law and are thinking of backing out on deals to bring jobs to the city:

MARK STRASSMANN: But in Thomasville, Alabama, Mayor Sheldon Day worries the state's law has turned off his city's foreign investors.

SHELDON DAY, MAYOR OF THOMASVILLE, ALABAMA: As one of my international visitors said, you know, we feel like Alabama kind of shot itself in the foot when we did this because we didn't think it out. We didn't think it through.

The CBS correspondent continued:

In Thomasville, two foreign companies, one Canadian, one Chinese, have invested $230 million and created almost 800 manufacturing jobs in a city of 5,000 people. Because of the law, the Chinese factory reportedly is reconsidering whether to build a $100 million factory in Thomasville.

After including clips of Republican State House Speaker Mike Hubbard asserting that, while there will likely be modifications to the new law, the law will not be repealed outright, Strassmann concluded by cautioning that the law may hurt the state's economic growth:

Alabama is not backing down, but more investors may be backing out. Mayor Day tells us a steel company planning to invest in Thomasville will hold off until its foreign workers feel more welcome. Mark Strassmann, CBS News, Thomasville, Alabama.

Just over a month ago, on Wednesday, November 23, the CBS Evening News had previously highlighted aspects of the Alabama law even supporters consider to be flaws in a report by correspondent Chip Reid.

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Wednesday, December 28, CBS Evening News:

JEFF GLOR: The Obama administration has deported more illegal immigrants than any prior administration, and Latino voters have taken notice. In a Pew survey out today, 59 percent say they disapprove of how the President has handled the deportations. States are also cracking down. Mark Strassmann went to Alabama, where some are having second thoughts now about a tough new law.

MARK STRASSMANN: Construction company owner Tommy Seals supports Alabama's controversial new immigration law. It requires non-citizens to carry documentation and fines employers who hire illegal immigrants.

TOMMY SEALS, CONSTRUCTION COMPANY OWNER: We have people that go out there and hire people at a cut-rate price. I think it's wrong. I think it's wrong for the folks that it harms, yet it happens, and it's been happening quite a bit, at least until this law came into effect.

STRASSMANN: Seals thinks the law has helped his business. He has hired two more people because, he says, competitors can no longer undercut him. But in Thomasville, Alabama, Mayor Sheldon Day worries the state's law has turned off his city's foreign investors.

SHELDON DAY, MAYOR OF THOMASVILLE, ALABAMA: As one of my international visitors said, you know, we feel like Alabama kind of shot itself in the foot when we did this because we didn't think it out. We didn't think it through.

STRASSMANN: In Thomasville, two foreign companies, one Canadian, one Chinese, have invested $230 million and created almost 800 manufacturing jobs in a city of 5,000 people. Because of the law, the Chinese factory reportedly is reconsidering whether to build a $100 million factory in Thomasville.

MIKE HUBBARD, ALABAMA STATE HOUSE SPEAKER: I stand behind the law and what we intended to do.

STRASSMANN: Mike Hubbard is the Speaker of the House in Alabama.

HUBBARD: We're just simply trying to enforce the law because the federal government has done a horrible job of enforcing its own law.

STRASSMANN: Since the law went into effect, a German Mercedes executive, here legally, spent a night in jail after a traffic violation for not having proper identification. So next February, Alabama's lawmakers will consider changes to the law, including one provision making it a crime for immigrants not to carry their citizenship documents. So many people are saying just get rid of this law.

HUBBARD: It's got some parts of it that we need to change to make it work better and to, and to make it more enforceable, and we intend to do that.

STRASSMANN: So for anyone who expects Alabama to back down and just repeal this law outright, you'd say forget it, not going to happen.

HUBBARD: That is not going to happen.

STRASSMANN: Alabama is not backing down, but more investors may be backing out. Mayor Day tells us a steel company planning to invest in Thomasville will hold off until its foreign workers feel more welcome. Mark Strassmann, CBS News, Thomasville, Alabama.

- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst for the Media Research Center