MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Using the tomato, a key ingredient in the popular BLT sandwich, comedian and host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report - Stephen Colbert - recently launched into a six minute segment on his show in which he lampooned the State of Alabama and its controversial immigration law.
Colbert, who testified - satirically - before the U.S. Congress in 2010, said he was the only person who could have predicted problems that would have arisen from laws like Alabama's. He didn't actually say "I told you so." He unfurled a large banner that did the work for him.
It was in front of Congress that Colbert complained of back-breaking work in which he had to stay in a bent-over position all day while picking vegetables. "It turns out, and I did not know this, most soil is at ground level," Colbert said during his testimony. He demanded to know why funding hadn't been made available to fix the problem and why soil was not waist deep.
Colbert's satirical view of Alabama's legislation was sprinkled among legitimate news clips featuring real issues facing the state's farming economy.
The state's legal battles, a matter both sides of the argument are taking very seriously, continue in the court system. Some portions of the law - like checking newly enrolled public school students' immigration status, have been halted on appeal.
But other key portions of the law remain. Police can still detain a suspected illegal immigrant if there is suspicion the person is not a legal resident. The federal government says it won't help the state. It's fighting to block all parts of the law.
The state has sought to mitigate potential problems with the law. One such problem spawned the creation of the state's ALVerify program which helped shore up concerns that already taxed courthouses wouldn't reach a breaking point. The law made it appear that tag renewals must be done in person, not online.
Another possible solution, which Colbert tied back to his sandwich theme, includes potential replacements for absent migrant workers.
The comedian said Alabama's illegal immigration law has devastated farming industries like that of the tomato. He made light of the fact that Alabama officials have suggested using inmates to take up much of the slack in farm work as migrant workers leave the fields, and the state, out of fear.
"Now, instead of having our food tainted by illegal aliens, it'll be harvested by perfectly legal criminals..." the comedian said.
Colbert's suggestion: Since inmates are the solution to replenishing the state's diminished farm workers, "The federal government must fix this problem by sealing the state borders..."
He then suggests the FBI, The National Guard, even the President's Council on Physical Fitness rush to Alabama "in order to arrest whatever illegal immigrants are left!"
Once those illegal immigrants have been thrown in jail, Colbert figures, the state can put them back to work as inmates picking crops.
Alabama officials continue to fight to keep the law in place despite having tomatoes hurled back at them.