Archive | July 13, 2011

Civil Rights Organizations Challenge Alabama’s Extreme Anti-Immigrant Law (HB56)

Alabama Governor Robert J. Bentley recently signed into law what has deemed to be one  of the strictest anti-immigration laws in the country. This law has generated great public outcry by many sectors of the community. This month, the American Civil Liberties Union, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian American Justice Center and the Asian Law Caucus filed a class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law (HB56).

It has been reported that the Alabama anti-immigration bill (HB 56) replicates portions of Arizona’s anti-immigration law. Alabama’s anti-immigration law would:

  • Allow local law enforcement to demand papers from and detain those they believe are in the country illegally.
  • Make it a crime for undocumented immigrants to hold a job in Alabama, and make it a crime for any immigrant in the state to be caught without documentation proving status.
  • Make it illegal to sign a contract with undocumented immigrants, to knowingly rent property to them,  to knowingly hire them for jobs.
  • Require businesses to use E-Verify, the government database of names, to check employees’ legal status.
  • Mandate that parents report the immigration status of their children to public schools to assist the schools to: maintain legal status records on all their students; and document the costs of educating undocumented children.

On July 8, 2011, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) released a press release regarding Alabama’s discriminatory anti-immigrant law. The SPLC press release reads as follows: “We have filed this lawsuit today because Alabama’s immigration law is blatantly unconstitutional,” said SPLC Legal Director Mary Bauer. “This law revisits the state’s painful racial past and tramples the rights of all Alabama residents. It should never become the law of the land.

The recently filed lawsuit also asserts that the law’s provisions regarding education will deter children from immigrant families from enrolling in public schools and will bar many non-citizens lawfully within the country from attending public colleges or universities in Alabama. These provisions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and are contrary to U.S. Supreme Court precedent. Other provisions deny individuals access to the state’s judicial system due to their immigration status – depriving them of due process guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Many community leaders oppose the anti-immigration law for a range of reasons and held a march in Birmingham. “This legislation not only violates our values as a community but will also create astronomical costs at a time when our state can least afford it,” said Shay Farley, Legal Director, and Alabama Appleseed. “If these legislators have their way, millions of taxpayer dollars will be squandered and our already underwater state economy will take another serious hit.”

For further information about anti-immigration laws, visit the website for the Southern
Poverty Law Center, ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center, National Immigration Forum, or the Asian American Justice Center.

Sources: “Alabama enacts anti-illegal-immigration law described as nation’s strictest” Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times, June 10, 2011. “In Alabama, a Harsh Bill for Residents Here Illegally”, Julia Preston, New York Times, June 3, 2011. Alabama Coalition for Immigration Justice Press Release, National Immigration Forum, Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian American Justice Center. “Anti-immigration law march in Birmingham draws a crowd and keeps commenters divided, too”, The Birmingham News, June 26, 2011. “Report: Anti-Immigration Law Cost Millions”, Jamilah King, COLORLINES, Thursday, January 27, 2011. Huffington Post.  “America’s Voice on Line, “Alabama anti-immigration law facing court challenge”, Tom Baxter, Southern Political Report, July 8, 2011. “HB 56: Alabama May Pass Nation’s Harshest Anti-Immigrant Law”, Nsenga Burton, the Root, June 9, 2011.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art