Legally Okay to Racially Profile in Alabama


It is now legal to racially profile in Alabama.  This week, HB58 was presented before a Federal Judge, who upheld certain provisions of the bill and blocked others.  Alabama law enforcement officers will now have the right to question and detain anyone they suspect may be an undocumented immigrant.

Add this to the idea that Alabama’s immigration law is one of the toughest federally, then stir in the history of the state as a racially charged piece of geography and we have a problem.

The judge in question is  U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn.  Blackburn blocked several parts of the law, but let stand provisions that no other judge considering these laws so far has, including provisions that give law enforcement officers unprecedented power to act as immigration agents.

Blackburn prevented undocumented immigrants from enrolling in any type of higher education, looking for a job and even from being day laborers and no business contracts entered into by undocumented workers are enforceable.

K-12 institutions are also required to track immigration statutes of their students, even as the Supreme Court has ruled that elementary and secondary education as a constitutional right. That fear will prevent parents from sending their children to school.

However, harboring an undocumented immigrant, or giving one a ride is not illegal.  The big controversy remains that she gave law enforcement agents the power to question and detain anyone who they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe may be undocumented.

Immigrant and civil rights groups have argued that this provision all but legalizes racial profiling, because it’s impossible to determine a person’s immigration status on sight alone, and any inference would rely on profiling.  However, human behavior is also a part of this, and Judge Blackburn did not hear evidence to convince her that human behavior inferences would be racially motivated alone.  It is a good point, but is it enough?

Here is the thing:  in social psychology there is a thing called a heuristic, which basically argues that a known entity will follow similar rules.  A rule of thumb if you will.  This applies to faces, situations, geography and people.  It is also called a stereotype when placed onto a person or a category for a group of people. We do this because we don’t want to spend the extra energy when we have already created a framework for something.  This phenomenom is called cognitive misership.

We all do it. It is part of the human processing system.  The problem arises when we attribute specific behaviors or the likelihood of certain behaviors onto the stereotype.  The stereotype itself is not bad, it is the judgments that we make around that stereotype that can be bad.  Sometimes they are good.  Mostly, however, out of a desire to see ourselves as good people, and the other person as less than us, we create these stereotypes with a negative judgment.

When asked, most anyone will tell you that they are not in fact racially stereotyping, instead they are going with what their “experience tells them.”  And sadly, this is also what informs their racism. We can’t prove what they are doing is profiling or racist.

This is the problem.  Both legally and in the human world.

At the time of this writing, the coalition of civil rights groups, including ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, has filed an emergency request with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to block provisions Judge Blackburn failed to enjoin from going into effect while her decision is appealed.


Related Stories:

Alabama’s Undocumented School Kids Could Be Kicked Out of Pep Squad

Alabama Passes Nation’s Toughest Immigration Law

Alabama Immigration Law Upheld, Supreme Court Intervention Likely


Photo Credit: LWPrincipe


Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold7 years ago

I find it difficult to understand why people are so upset with the "prosecution/deportation" of illegal aliens. They are not supposed to be here to start with, they take all the government will give them (and that sure is alot) and then complain when they can't get more. What ever happened to "Charity begins at home."? So many Americans can't get what they deserve for all their work and scrimping/saving but the aliens walk in and get everything and the ACLU and all the rest of the groups get up in arms when we try to enforce our immigration laws. I don't care who/color/creed or anything else, if you come in illegally, I resent you. If you come in legally, I will welcome you and help you.

Holly Lawrence
Holly Lawrence7 years ago

It is in TEXAS also !!! And they get away with it!

Jay Hem
Immigrant I AM7 years ago

There is going to be a documentary on immigrants in the U.S on TUESDAY AT 9PM on KVIE/ PBS... it is a MUST watch.. if you have comcast the channel will (should be) 06 for regular and 706 for HD.. it will be titled FRONTLINE... DONT MISS IT, SET YOUR DVR IF YOU HAVE TO!!!


Jay Hem
Immigrant I AM7 years ago


So what does a "DUCK" look like, swims like, flies like and waks like?????

You sound like an OLD RETARD to me!!

Theodore Ackman
ted Ackman7 years ago

TO- Darlina D.
It's not so much skin color as BEHAVIOR. To me skin color is genetic, whereas behavior is learned. But then I'm sure you already knew that. So far as we know, ALL people are of the HUMAN race. therefore, 'racial profiling' is close to an oxymoron. To what other race(-s) are humans to be compared(?) - for profiling purposes.

Theodore Ackman
ted Ackman7 years ago

TO- Darlina D.
It's not so much skin color as BEHAVIOR. To me skin color is genetic, whereas behavior is learned. But then I'm sure you already knew that. So far as we know, ALL people are of the HUMAN race. therefore, 'racial profiling' is close to an oxymoron. To what other race(-s) are human to be compared - for profiling purposes?

Darlina Duarte
Darlina Duarte7 years ago

I agree with Robert O and Barbara S.
As for you Nancy L people like you disgust me, a real racist and sorry excuse for a human. Last time I checked the United States was still a free country and we're not suppose to judge by the color of someones skin. The good thing for you, there are alot of racists out there just like you who have nothing better to do than to sit back and blame all their problems on people who's skin is not white. MAINLY THE HISPANICS. How high and mighty we must feel. Arizona has taken a huge economic hit over their bigot-prejudice-disgusting law and I hope Alabama takes a huge hit too.
No matter how many ways they want to write their prejudice laws it all comes down to racial profiling and it's disgusting. I'M SICK OF IT and someone with money who can afford the good lawyers should take these idiot states to the Supreme Court and put a stop to these states being able to do whatever they want ESPECIALLY ARIZONA.
Barbara I totally understand what your talking about as my husband is Hispanic and every stinking time he goes back to Mexico to see his family the high and mighty cops of Arizona feels a need to stop him too, because of his skin color. He is legally here, has lived here more than 20 years and this is all BULLSHIT. It's not fair to him or people such as your housekkeeper or for that matter any human being, racial profiling is WRONG.

colleen p.
colleen p7 years ago

Patrick F. people here pick and choose battles. some people would rather a village starve than let them eat a cow.

oh look at this. I canno't gain more butterflies today. I like getting something for my antics. it can help people who need it, while I call idiots, idiots, savages savages and mock them.

Vince D.
Vince D7 years ago

What's the obsession of make this a matter of pigment?

It is not. It is a matter of numbers, protecting our borders, our workers, ensuring that employers are help to certain standards and not allowing our nation to be invaded by another. If the Canadians were pouring over our border, the argument against illegal migration, and excessive legal immigration, would be just as strong.

By trying to make this a "race issue", the pro-illegal folks are trying to turn off people's logic and appeal to their emotion. Nice try...

Want some projections on where all of this excessive immigration is taking this country? Watch this, then tell us if you think America will be better if we leave the doors wide open.

tiffany t.
tiffany t7 years ago

I hear @#$%$ dueling banjos in the background; squeal like a pig
what is the obsession with suppression of pigment