Monday, May 21, 2012

An Immigrant Blacklist? Alabama Legislature Amends H.B. 56, the Toughest State Immigration Enforcement Law


Passed last year, the Beason-Hammon Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, or H.B. 56, is the state of Alabama's effort to be even tougher on undocumented immigrants than Arizona’s controversial S.B. 1070. On Friday, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed into law revisions to Alabama’s immigration enforcement law that, surprisingly enough, in certain respects make a tough-on-immigrants law even tougher. 

Gov. Bentley unsuccessfully tried to persuade lawmakers to change two provisions, one that requires schools to check the immigration status of enrolling schoolchildren, anda “Scarlet Letter” provision that requires the creation of a public computer database listing the names of undocumented immigrants who appear in court.

As we have previously reported on ImmigrationProf, the amended H.B. 56 has provoked controversy and it is unlikely to subside anytime soon.  The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.

“Alabama policymakers have officially turned back the clock on civil rights in the Heart of Dixie. The revised immigration law has achieved a new low in discriminatory and overreaching policy, targeting schoolchildren in order to frighten their parents and creating a big-government, taxpayer-funded ‘immigrant blacklist.’

“It is disappointing that Governor Bentley gave in to the legislature and signed the mean-spirited substitute law, despite his own concerns about its severity and potential impact. Indeed, Governor Bentley missed an opportunity to show responsible leadership and heed the pleas of farmers, religious and civil rights leaders calling for a repeal of the immigration law. These diverse voices oppose the latest immigration bill in Alabama because it damages the overall economy of the state and because it is a direct attack on our American values of fairness and equal treatment.

“Just last week, reports indicated that Alabama farmers were cutting back on food production. They feared crops would rot in the fields for a second straight year, a product of the farm labor shortage Alabama’s heavy-handed immigration measures have caused. Alabama’s own newspapers have reproached the immigration laws because they ‘give economic recruiters in other states all the ammunition they need to keep industries and businesses from locating in Alabama’ and because they ‘present Alabama as a closed, intolerant, unwelcoming state.’

“The new iteration of the immigration law is just meaner and more reckless. It is a bad sequel aiming to bring intimidation and fear to Alabama’s classrooms and courtrooms. Until Alabama policymakers right this wrong by repealing the law or the courts overturn it, all Alabamians will continue to suffer the economic and moral consequences.”

A legal challenge to H.B. 56 is pending in the court of appeals as the court awaits the Supreme Court's ruling in Arizona v. United States.


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