The Effects of Self-Deportation in Alabama

Photos from Birmingham, Alabama, where residents are experiencing the downside of anti-immigration bill HB 56

In finding a photographer to shoot this story on Alabama's anti-immigration bill, in addition to a great photographer, we wanted someone who knew the area and knew the issue. For this story in particular, we focused on the other people being impacted by the law—the employers of undocumented workers, police, and teachers. So we needed a photographer who could deftly get a wide range of people to open up. David Walter Banks, a Luceo photographer from Atlanta, came to mind right away. From his past work, I knew David would be able to handle the mix of portraits and reportage required in this assignment and he could get people working in farms, school, churches, and police stations all to let him in.

David delivered far more excellent photos than we could use in print or online. He shot striking portraits of all the subjects, in a number of situations. He really went all out documenting rounding up chickens at the Bagwells' farm, and he traveled the state, capturing lingering devastation from the year-old tornado. The local police chief let David shoot some portraits and arranged for a ride-along, not an easy task in any town these days.

Some of the photographs depict the emotional devastation this legislation has had on these people; some dramatize the energy that the farmworkers put into their demanding occupation, energy which is likely to be leaving the state.