Alabama’s governor has signed what he billed as tough illegal immigration legislation, requiring police to check the status of anyone they suspect may be in the country illegally when stopped for another reason.
The bill, due to take effect on Sept. 1, was signed into law by Republican Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday, June 9.
Its passage makes Alabama the latest in a series of states, including Georgia and Arizona, to enact controversial new laws aimed at tackling illegal immigration.
Following On Immigration Laws In Arizona And Georgia
Care2′s Jessica Pieklo wrote about the Georgia law here. Despite judicial losses in both Arizona and Utah, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) of Georgia signed into law one of the nation’s toughest immigration measures.
The law is similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 and allows local law enforcement to question suspects about their immigration status, including demanding proof of citizenship during a stop. Should that documentation not sufficiently satisfy law enforcement concerns, the law empowers them to take suspects to jail where federal officials could begin the deportation process.
And now the Alabama bill, which promises to be even tougher.
Civil rights groups and the Mexican government have been quick to condemn the move.
Suspicions If A Person Might Be An Unauthorized Alien
According to a fact sheet presented by Alabama House Republicans, the bill will require law enforcement officers “to attempt to determine the immigration status of a person who they suspect is an unauthorized alien of this country”.
The legislation also makes it a criminal offense to provide transport or housing to an illegal immigrant. The state will have to check the citizenship of students, and any business that knowingly employs an illegal immigrant will be penalized.
Legislation “Good For Alabama”
Republican state Rep. John Merrill told CNN he had no hesitation in backing the legislation, saying it is “good for Alabama” because it will reduce illegal immigration to the state.
He rejected suggestions the law is discriminatory, and said he is confident it was drafted in such a way that it will survive legal challenges.
The legislation is intended to “provide equal opportunities for all people who want to come to Alabama legally,” he added.
But critics say it has far-reaching consequences and will have a particular impact on young people because it requires the state to check the citizenship of all those seeking to enroll in schools.
Will Students Be Afraid?
The measure will require public schools to determine the citizenship status of students — a provision not included in an Arizona law that has been at the forefront of actions by several states to curb illegal immigration.
Parents of foreign-born public school students would be required to report their immigration status to school officials. And public schools would have to report how many legal and illegal immigrants they enroll and how much is spent to educate undocumented students.
Law To Take Effect September 1
The law, which is scheduled to take effect September 1, requires businesses to use a database called E-Verify to confirm the immigration status of new employees.
Earlier the SPLC issued a statement saying the state stood to lose “millions more in lost tax revenue from Alabama businesses that will bear the brunt of boycotts of Alabama goods and services and lost sales to documented and undocumented immigrants who flee the state rather than deal with racial profiling and the state’s anti-immigrant climate.”
Meanwhile, Arizona’s governor said last month she would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after portions of the state’s new immigration law were blocked by federal courts.
The Arizona bill catapulted the issue onto the national stage last year, drawing a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice, which argues that the law is unconstitutional.
Should Immigration Policy Be A Federal Issue?
Apparently under this bill we’re going to keep illegal immigrant students out of all public colleges so none of them, regardless of how smart or how hard they work, will be able to get the education they would need to become teachers, engineers, doctors, nurses and entrepreneurs.
Illegal immigration has been a serious problem for years. But immigration policy is, or should be, a federal issue. Leaving national immigration policy up to Arizona, Alabama and the other 48 states is no solution.
Photo Credit: Shoshanah via Creative Commons