Alabama tightens immigration restrictions

The state of Alabama recently passed a new law further restricting illegal immigration. Although the Federal court blocked parts of the immigration law, Alabama’s law is still stricter than that of any other state.

Among portions blocked by the federal court were requirements for public schools to check students’ immigration status. Provisions of the law blocking the harboring and transportation of illegal immigrants were also blocked.

But the majority of the law remains intact. A section was upheld that requires both state and local law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of people that appear “reasonably suspicious” at traffic stops or arrests.

Alabama is home to some 130,000 undocumented immigrants. With the introduction of Alabama’s immigration law, many have fled the state  — visible in classroom absences and failures of workers to show up at a variety of businesses, including restaurants and tomato fields.

It is a felony for illegal immigrants to engage in “business transactions” within Alabama. This includes applying for driver’s or business licenses. Provisions in the new law also make contracts knowingly made with illegal immigrants invalid.

Governor Robert J. Bentley, who signed the legislation, known has HB 56, in June, said in a statement that, “if the federal government had done its job by enforcing its own immigration laws, we wouldn’t be here today.”

There have been passionate responses both in support and in opposition of the law.

Civil rights groups, including the ACLU, have been fighting the recent legislation.

Mary Bauer, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, calls the law a “humanitarian crisis.” Callers to this organization’s hotline report fear to drive sick relatives to doctors, bullying at schools and difficulty obtaining water from municipal water companies for those that can’t prove themselves documented.