Attorney General Eric Holder told an audience gathered at Birmingham, Alabama’s historic 16th Street Baptist Church Sunday that too many in Alabama “are willing to turn their backs on our immigrant past.”
He was referring to Alabama’s controversial recently enacted immigration law – his Justice Department has called the Alabama law a “sweeping new state regime” and taken the state to court. And the courts are now having the say on the law.
Writing in the Birmingham News, Joey Kennedy says that the repeated blows against the law in the courts are:
“What happens when the Legislature passes cruddy, hot-button, knee-jerk bills instead of doing a little homework to realize what’s going to work best and make that the law. For too many of our leaders, being self-righteously mean is much more fun.”
The law has driven thousands, including business owners and vital workers, out of the state, forcing chicken factories and others to close, and — as in neighboring Georgia — led to crops rotting in the fields.
Yet State Senator Scott Beason, the main sponsor of the bill, told the BBC that the law was “the best thing for the long-term economic health of our state.”
Another part of the law was knocked down Monday when Jefferson County Circuit Judge Scott Vowell declared the provision dealing with contracts null and void.
A car dealer had attempted to get a lawsuit tossed out that was filed last year by two men who said they were misled about the condition of cars they bought because the men were undocumented. His argument was that a sales agreement cited by the men was invalid because the new law prohibits contracts with undocumented immigrants.
Vowell said the Alabama constitution says the immigration law can’t stop contracts in force before the immigration law was passed as well as that the entire contracts section of the immigration law may be unconstitutional, but he tossed the issue back to the legislature saying that “this Court does not have to consider that broader issue because this suit has been commenced before the (immigration) Act was passed.”
Alabamans may not realize that this section means that in order to hire a contractor to fix a roof, you will need to check that they’re a citizen or have the appropriate visa.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn stopped enforcement on some provisions of the law last month, including a provision making it a crime to knowingly transport or harbor an undocumented immigrant. A three-judge panel with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked enforcement of a few other provisions.
“We know the law encourages profiling. We know it has caused problems in the farming and construction industries. We know it takes waiting in long lines for hours to renew a car tag. We know it’s splitting up families and causing even legal immigrants to flee Alabama because they don’t want to be harassed. Because of this law, even to check out a book at a Shelby County public library, a patron must prove his citizenship.”
“The immigration law is a bust. A good Legislature would realize its mistake and make it right. I’m not going to hold my breath; it’s pretty clear on this issue what kind of Legislature we have.”
Picture source Andre Levy