Changes to Alabama’s Extreme Immigration Law Not Enough, Critics Say

Following numerous protests, lawsuits, damaging economic reports and problems enforcing the law, Alabama Rep. Micky Hammon of Decatur proposed a bill (HB 658) that tweaks key provisions of the state’s immigration enforcement law, HB 56. Last week, the Alabama House approved those changes, some of which scaled back provisions of the law and others which actaully expanded existing provisions. While Rep. Hammon claims the tweak bill “removes confusing language and makes the law easier to enforce,” opponents assert that no amount of tweaking can fix this broken law and that the only solution is a full repeal. HB 658 is now pending in the state Senate which is expected to take up the bill this week.

HB658′s changes to Alabama’s immigration law include:

  • Limits “papers please” provision (which allows local law enforcement officers to check immigration status of those “reasonably suspected” of being undocumented during a traffic stop) to instances when the officer is actually making an arrest or issuing a traffic citation;
  • Limits the application of “business transaction” provision (which makes it a crime to enter into business contracts with the state) to drivers license or business license (not utilities or marriage licenses);
  • Strikes a ban on renting property to undocumented immigrants;
  • Exempts religious organizations from provision that makes it a crime to harbor or transport undocumented immigrants;
  • Clarifies that contracts entered into prior to HB56 are exempt from contract provision (which says courts shall not enforce contracts between a party and undocumented immigrant); and
  • Replaces provision requiring schools to collect information on students immigration status at time of enrollment with provision requiring state superintendent to compile report on how much undocumented immigrants cost school district

However, HB 658 expands provisions of HB 56 by:

  • Increasing penalties for failure to carry immigration papers; and
  • Allowing law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of other people in an automobile when the driver is “reasonably suspected” to be undocumented

Although Rep. Hammon commented that he wants to further revise these changes in Senate bills, opponents aren’t convinced these changes will do anything to curb the economic problems and potential for racial profiling brought resulting from the law.

“It’s still a bad bill. You can’t dress up something that wasn’t good from the beginning,” said Rep. A.J. McCampbell of Linden.

“You cannot make bad legislation good legislation by just trying to tack on amendments here and there,” Rep. Yvonne Kennedy said.

“My 16-year-old daughter should not be asked for her identification because I was speeding,” Rep. Napoleon Bracy of Prichard said. “If you were a white person that was a passenger in the car, you wouldn’t be subject to this. That is where the racial profiling comes in.”

“I don’t think Rep. Hammon has ever been a victim of racial profiling,” Bracy said. “He would have to be a victim of racial profiling to understand where we’re coming from.”

Many key provisions of Alabama’s law have been temporarily enjoined by the courts. A three-judge panel from the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit  said they would not issue an opinion on Alabama’s immigration law until after the Supreme Court ruled on Arizona’s SB1070—arguments for which were heard last week.

Photo by imagesandmore.

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  1. Luis says:

    You ca not put a bandage on a cut that needs stiches !!! The result will be infectuos and harmful. The Moral Law stipulates Do onto others as you would have others do unto you !!!! If you don’t attend to the needs of the persecuted, neither YHWH will attend to the needs of your State !!!!

  2. magyart says:

    The simple humanity of Arizona’s law is that it protects legal immigrants and citizens from illegal residents, that avoided the legal pathway.

    AZ merely adopted a federal law as it’s own. A law passed by Congress. The Court isn’t going to give the federal govt. permission to NOT enforce it’s own law.

    This law is also humane for it enables illegal residents to “self deport”. They need not be rounded up like cattle or tracked down by federal agents or even do ant jail time. They merely need to realize the didn’t come here legally, so they are not welcome. Their presence is a financial burdon on the legal immigrant and citizen.

    When the founding fathers spoke of “We the People” they didn’t include illegal residents.

  3. Sue Smith says:

    These types of discriminatory laws DO NOT protect or aid legal residents. In fact, it is impossible to determine whether a person may be an undocumented immigrant simply by looking at them, so proof of residency or legal presence could (and should!) affect every citizen in the US, no matter their race or ethnicity.

    Once we open the door to “prove” legal presence, are we going to simply profile and pick brown-skinned people, or Asians, or people with a “foreign accent?” Can we honestly tell a US citizen from a Canadian, or a Puerto Rican from an Argentine simply by looking at them? I think not.

    These laws are quite specifically aimed at Latino immigrants. Let’s just be honest and admit our bias and quit trying to justify discrimination and profiling.

  4. Kenneth D. Keith Jr. says:

    Immigration law is exclusively and solely the responsibility of and limited to the jurisdiction of the Federal Government. We cannot have 50 different sets of immigration law. The bigotry and racial prejudice of the few must NOT be allowed to set the legal standards of this nation. Majority rule! This is not a States Rights issue, it is a matter of Federal law. If you believe in your opinion that the Federal Government is failing to act effectively in the matter of Immigration Law our constitution provides that you may petition the government for redress. Our constitution, as I understand it, does not allow States to “VOID” Federal Law passed by a majority of democratically elected representatives of the people, by the limited majority of a single state. If you are unhappy with the current Federal Law I suggest you use the proper and legal avenue of petition to your representatives in the US House & Senate to change the Federal Laws concerning immigration. Failing that you must, as the rest of law abiding citizens in this nation, accept and obey the national law as it stands. “IF” there is a majority of Americans (U S Citizens) who wish to persecute specific groups in our society you will be able to get the Federal Law changed. If not? That’s democracy, unless you want the Divided States of America with 50 sovereign nation states all operating on their own set of laws and the resultant legal requirement of passports to move from one nation state to another. As Ben Franklin put it, ‘We must all hang together or we shall surely, all hang separately.” United we stand…….” you know the rest. Why is this even an issue to anyone with an IQ of over 5?

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