published Friday, June 10th, 2011

Alabama passes tough illegal-immigration law

By BOB JOHNSON

Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama vaulted past Arizona on Thursday with what is being called the most restrictive law in the nation against illegal immigration, requiring schools to find out if students are in the country lawfully and making it a crime to knowingly give an illegal immigrant a ride.

Advocacy groups promised to challenge the sweeping measure, which like Arizona’s law also allows police to arrest anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant if the person is stopped for some other reason. In addition, it requires all businesses to check the legal status of workers using a federal system called E-Verify.

“It is clearly unconstitutional. It’s mean-spirited, racist, and we think a court will enjoin it,” said Mary Bauer, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

It takes effect Sept. 1.

Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, who signed it into law Thursday, expressed confidence it would withstand any legal challenges.

“We have a real problem with illegal immigration in this country,” he said. “I campaigned for the toughest immigration laws, and I’m proud of the Legislature for working tirelessly to create the strongest immigration bill in the country.”

Alabama has an estimated 120,000 illegal immigrants, a nearly fivefold increase from a decade ago, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Many of them are believed to be working on farms, at chicken processing plants and in construction.

One of the legislation’s sponsors, GOP Sen. Scott Beason, said it would help the unemployed by preventing illegal immigrants from getting jobs in the state. Alabama’s unemployment rate stood at 9.3 percent in April, the most recent figure available.

“This will put thousands of Alabamians back in the work force,” Beason said.

The Alabama Business Council has not taken a public stand on the law. In neighboring Georgia, some farmers and business owners warned that a crackdown passed recently in that state would make it more difficult to hire the laborers they rely on — many of whom are illegal immigrants.

The Alabama measure instantly puts the state at the forefront of the immigration debate. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center agreed that it is the nation’s toughest crackdown on illegal immigration.

Linton Joaquin, general counsel for the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles, said the Alabama law covers all aspects of an immigrant’s life.

“It is a sweeping attack on immigrants and people of color in general. It adds restrictions on education, housing and other areas. It is a very broad attack,” Joaquin said.

Among other things, the law makes it a crime for landlords to knowingly rent to an illegal immigrant.

Another provision makes it a crime to transport a known illegal immigrant. Arizona’s law appears narrower: It includes language against human smuggling and makes it illegal to pick up laborers for work if doing so impedes traffic.

Alabama’s law also goes further in requiring schools to check the immigration status of their students. The measure does not prohibit illegal immigrants from attending public schools; lawmakers said the purpose instead is to gather data on how many are enrolled and how the much the state is spending to educate them.

Jared Shepherd, an attorney for the ACLU, warned that because of that provision, some immigrant parents may not send their children to school for fear of arrest or deportation.

Activists such as Shay Farley, legal director of Alabama Appleseed, an immigrant advocacy group, said the bill invites racial profiling not only by law enforcement officers but by landlords and employers.

“It’s going to make us profile our neighbors and our church brothers and sisters,” Farley said.

Alabama’s Hispanic population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010 to 186,000, or 3.9 percent of the state’s nearly 4.8 million people, according to the Census.

Some farmers and other small businesses had hoped to be exempted from having to verify the immigration status of employees, fearing the database would be too costly and add too much red tape. Georgia’s law, by contrast, exempts businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

Alabama’s measure was modeled on Arizona’s. A federal judge blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona’s law last year after the Justice Department sued.

That includes the provision that required police to check people’s immigration status while enforcing other laws if there was reason to believe the person was in the country illegally. The case appears headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.

A less restrictive law in Utah also was blocked after a lawsuit was filed. Civil liberties groups have sued to stop Georgia’s law as well.

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revmike11 said...

Hey! This takes me back to the ol south days when they passed all kinds of legislation concerning black citizens. Now its the Mexicans. When will it all stop? Of course It was all done it the best interest of the state!! lol!! Racism is Racism in any form, and that is racist in it intent!!!!!!!! Seems to me that certain folk have an Axe to grind or something. All those folk want to do is work! Now we want to check their status to make sure they cant ride in a car with regular folk! Come on!! How can a state legislator pass this without being overtly racist!!

June 10, 2011 at 9:01 a.m.
dao1980 said...

I don't think it's "mexicans" as you say revmike11.

There are plenty of folks from many different countries that "just want to work" and are residing legally in this country. These folks have nothing to worry about, and we all appreciate what they contribute to our society.

I am quite sure that this issue pertains strictly to folks of any origin that are residing illegally in this country... or state.

In fact a good friend of mine just got sent back to Russia because his work visa had expired. I also had a friend that was finally tracked down by Australian officials and sent back here to the states for the same reason. Neither of these individuals were committing heinous or violent crimes, and were doing nothing more than working and hanging out with buddies.

But, they were in fact, outside of the law by simple and easily understandable circumstances... and neither of them cried "RACISM!" when the hammer fell.

June 10, 2011 at 9:35 a.m.
chatttn said...

agree with Lib

June 10, 2011 at 11:06 a.m.

For once, I agree with L4F too. Our economy is struggling. Real Americans need American jobs. I don't see it as racist and I am Black... My mother, along with her entire team, was laid off from Dupont making $13/hr and replaced with illegals making half that reducing the value of our jobs and making it nearly impossible for anyone else to find work unless they are willing to take a major paycut. We can no longer afford to have them here.

June 10, 2011 at 12:41 p.m.
SeaMonkey said...

they're not supposed to be here.....what part of that don't you understand, revmike11? anybody is welcome in america if they do it the proper way. americans are underemployed and unemployed in huge numbers...probabaly in total about %40 of this country right now.....obama is talking about bailing out greece and you libs are attacking those in this country who are taking jobs aways from illegal aliens??? madness repeat after me revmike11...they are not immigrants, they are illegal aliens, illegal entrants and criminals.

it's not racism. the same laws apply to swedes, aussies, germans, south africans, ethiopians, kenyans, greeks and many other who want to come to this country...mexicans are no special. they have to abide by the same laws....tough cookies.

June 10, 2011 at 1:07 p.m.
Wilder said...

It looks like the moves being made by the Ga and Al legislators are going to have a substantial impact on Tn, and particularily Chattanooga, just up the road from Mexico City.

"The Rev. Gilbardo Guerrero, pastor of Dalton’s World Friendship Church, said his church once had almost 600 members but now has less than half that.... he says the numbers leaving have really jumped in just the last few weeks, after the General Assembly passed a strong new law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration...“I’ve got people moving to CHATTANOOGA! They were just waiting for the kids to finish their school year.” "Dalton Daily Citizen" 6/8/11

Let me interpret what this means for the fine people of Chattannoga, and the state of Tennessee. First of all lots of Peachcare recepients are going to be converting to Tenncare. Secondly, Dalton's schools are going to get some much needed relief and guess who is going to be building new schools to handle all of the new students, many of whom are non-English speakers.

Lets see, our hospitals are going to get a breather, and yours are going to have to add staff. We are going to have less unlicensed and uninsured drivers, less demand for jail space, court time, and interpreters.

We may even get to reclaim some of our public parks. Your new Latino residents are going to love Coolidge Park, the Riverfront, and Lake Chickamauga. They will wonder why they ever settled in Dalton to begin with.

Of course, they will continue to commute to Dalton, where they will continue to pay Georgia income taxes, but Hamilton County's residents will be paying to educate their offspring. And they will probably continue to make their purchases in Ga., where the sales taxes are lower.

And, to compound matters, you are also going to be the recepient of Alabama's fugitives from justice.

BTW, many of the geniuses in the carpet cartel, who thought it would be a good idea to recruit several tens of thousands of non-English speaking third world indigents to Dalton, have moved to Chattanooga over the years. You owe them a big thank you.

June 10, 2011 at 10:40 p.m.
nucanuck said...

The US does not offer a reasonable, timely temporary worker program to fill true labor needs in time of demand. Neither does the US have a worker documentation system that would end most undocumented work. Our failure to provide a better system, opens the door to the present situation. Never the less, when I think of what people are willing to endure,just to get a low paying job, I am filled with a certain respect and admiration. Immigrants, and especially illegal immigrants, have to be made of pretty good stuff to endure what they do to get what little they get. These are strong people.

I wish our own kids were that tough.

June 11, 2011 at 1:50 a.m.
rolando said...

The "open door" to our "present situation" is the direct result of the last two presidents' refusal to close the "open door" across our border.

The illegal aliens coming across our borders reflects nothing about strength of character; it simply shows the mess they made of their own country and their refusal to clean it up, preferring to come here and live off us like some lazy, laid-back relative.

June 11, 2011 at 7:26 a.m.
Wilder said...

@ Rolando

Actually Mexico is on track to be one of the world's largest economies; projected to be the 5th largest in 20 years. The pure European Mexicans, the ruling class, who make up about a third of the population, and control almost all of the wealth, know exactly what they are doing - they are unloading the lowest socioeconomic segment of their population, the Mestizos, on us to take care of.

On this side of the border, there is no shortage of sociopaths, like the carpet cartel, who will do anything to make another buck; including dumping tens of millions of indigents on their fellow citizens to sustain. They are actually transfering money from our bank accounts into theirs.

As for the violence in Mexico, it is all concentrated along the border, and has no impact on the vast majority of the population. Mexico City is actually safer than Chattanooga. And, when the Hispanic vs Black gang wars get underway in the near future, Chattanooga will be even less safe.

June 11, 2011 at 9:11 a.m.
Wilder said...

@Numbnucks It is called an H-2A visa. I presume what you are referring to as "unreasonable", is that the employers have to advertise for American workers first, and they also have to abide by our labor and tax laws as well as pay for the upkeep of their workers.

In other words, the carpet cartel would have to offer jobs to citizens first, then pay for housing, food and tranportation, provide medical, etc. for their illegal alien employees, instead of dumping them on everyone else.

It sounds very reasonable to me.

June 11, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Wilter,

Certainly you are clever enough to see that the H-2a visa does nothing to solve the immigration and temporary worker needs that confront the country. Our processes don't fit the situation.

June 11, 2011 at 2:23 p.m.
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