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Alabama surpasses Arizona on tough immigration legislation

On June 9, 2011, Alabama’s Gov. Robert Bentley signed HB 56, viewed by both opponents and supporters as the toughest bill yet for a state solution to illegal immigration. The bill closely mirrors Arizona SB 1070 but goes additional steps.

Alabama’s follows Arizona’s lead allowing police to arrest persons suspected of being illegal when stopped for another violation. It requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify system before hiring immigrants to check their legal status (Sections 9 & 15). In addition, the bill forbids sanctuary actions by state or local officials (Section 5 & 6).

However, HB 56 goes further than Arizona in requiring public schools to determine the legal status of school children. Illegal children will not, in fact, they cannot be barred from being educated. The state’s justification on this measure is requiring schools to report statistics to the state for the purposes of determining the cost to the state of educating these students.

It further makes many contracts written with an illegal immigrant unenforceable in state courts. Knowingly giving a ride to an illegal immigrant is now a crime in Alabama.

Scheduled to take effect Sept. 1, the bill is consider a measure of job protection for legal residents of Alabama. In the decade from 2000 to 2010, the Latino population doubled to 186,000, or 3.9%. The Pew Hispanic Center reports a five fold increase in the decade to 120,000.

Senator Scott Beason (R) is quoted as saying, ‘This will put thousands of Alabamians back in the workforce.’ The unemployment rate in Alabama is 9.3% based on the last reporting.

HB 56 was first introduced by state Representative Micky Hammon, (R). Senator Beason added improved language and worked closely with Kris Kobach, of Counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, to improve the language and tailor it to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting. www.fairus.org.

Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting is the May 26, 2011 decision by the Supreme Court which upheld the Arizona law imposing harsh penalties on businesses that hire illegals.

The number of states enacting their own immigration legislation out of frustration for the lack of federal enforcement continues to grow. At one point, Colorado was one of perhaps 25 states considering Arizona type legislation, but failed to act in the recent legislative session. However, at the time legislation was being considered, Jesse Ilibarri of La Mi Familia Vota was quoted as saying Colorado ‘already does many of the same things.’ A Denver Post editorial at the time stated Colorado has the second-toughest immigration laws in the nation.

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