The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and other civil rights groups filed suit last month in federal district court, challenging Alabama’s new immigration law. Federal judges have temporarily blocked at least parts of similar immigration laws from taking effect in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia. Those courts are now reviewing the laws and will very likely strike them down. Most of the provisions of Alabama’s immigration law won’t take effect until September 1st. When filing the suit, a SPLC spokesperson said in a news conference:
The Alabama law chills children’s access to public schools by requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents; authorizes police to demand ‘papers’ demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops; and criminalizes Alabamians for ordinary, everyday interactions with undocumented individuals. The lawsuit charges that the extreme law endangers public safety, invites the racial profiling of Latinos, Asians and others who appear foreign to an officer, and interferes with federal law.
A person without valid federal alien registration or other proof of legal presence in the United States would, just for being in Alabama, be guilty of “willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document,” punishable by a $100 fine and 30 days in jail. The following are parts of the Alabama law:
• It would be a crime, punishable by a fine of not more than $500, for a person who is an unauthorized alien to “knowingly apply for work, solicit work in a public or private place or perform work as an employee or independent contractor” in Alabama.
• A law officer stopping a person on a possible violation of another law would be required to make “a reasonable attempt,” when practicable, to determine the citizenship and immigration status of the person “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.” Law officers would have to contact federal officials to check if the person was in the United States legally. Someone found to not be in Alabama legally could be convicted of willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document.
• It would be a crime, punishable by as much as a year in jail, for a person to conceal, harbor or shield an illegal immigrant anywhere in Alabama if the concealing person knew or recklessly disregarded the fact that the immigrant was in the United States illegally.
• It would be a crime, punishable by a year in jail, to transport an illegal immigrant “in furtherance of the unlawful presence of the alien in the United States” if the person providing the transportation knew or recklessly disregarded the fact that the immigrant was in the United States illegally.
It has been very interesting to hear some of our legislators trying to justify their role in passing this legislation. I am proud to say that my brother Billy, a member of the state Senate, voted against the bill. In my opinion, that was the right thing to do. Billy will pre-file a bill to repeal the new law. I will mention that in more detail below.
Proponents of the bill continue to say they weren’t being “racist” when they pushed the ill-conceived legislation through the system. Hopefully that’s true, but if that was a motivation, it’s a very sad commentary on our times. I also have great difficulty understanding how any legislator could support a bill they believed to be unconstitutional. It’s sort of like a person “standing in the school house door,” knowing all along that his stand was for show and politically motivated.
Source: SPLC New Release
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