Alabama trying to be even more anti-immigrant than Arizona

Alabama may adopt anti-immigration legislation that’s even worse than Arizona’s infamous SB 1070. The bill, which a proponent describes as “an Arizona bill with an Alabama twist,” has been sent to Gov. Robert Bentley, who has until tomorrow to act. Colorlines reports:

Like Arizona’s SB 1070, the bill mandates that police investigate and detain anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe may be undocumented. It also contains provisions that are commonplace among anti-immigrant laws: it spells out explicitly that undocumented immigrants may not access public benefits. It mandates that the state take part in E-Verify, the flawed federal employment verification system. It forbids people from hiring, harboring or giving a ride to undocumented immigrants, and, forbids landlords from renting property to undocumented immigrants.

HB 56 contains a few especially harsh provisions. Under the current bill, undocumented immigrants who enter into any kind of contract would not be able to have the contract enforced because of the immigration status. And in a new twist on the attack on immigrants’ education rights, primary and secondary schools will be required to verify the immigration status of students and parents, who will be required to go to their children’s schools to provide an affidavit. The bill also would bar undocumented immigrant students from enrolling in any of Alabama’s public colleges and universities.

Hmm, restricting students’ access to education, you say? Vivek Malhotra of the ACLU calls that particular provision “quite brazen.” And I call it particularly fucked-up.

The ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center are already studying the bill and planning legal challenges if it becomes law. You’d think that, given that challenges to Arizona and Utah’s anti-immigration laws have been successful, Alabama wouldn’t want to waste time and money defending bigotry. But I suppose reason doesn’t have much to do with this.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • Emolee

    This is shameful. While many other parts of the bill are arguably more important or dangerous, the part that got to me at this moment was: “It forbids people from… harboring or giving a ride to undocumented immigrants.” This really highlighted for me that they are trying to create danger for these people, make them pariahs, or erase them as human beings. Next a bill will say that American citizens and “documented immigrants” cannot speak to or associate with “undocumented immigrants,” or that “undocumented immigrants” cannot be served in public accomodations. For some reason this bill reminded me of the proposed bill in Mississippi a few years ago that would have made it illegal for restaurants to serve fat people. What is wrong with people?

  • nazza

    Those of us who identify as liberal always get drowned out by the reactionary voices. But I do happen to know several local activists who are fighting this legislation tooth and nail. Don’t think that this bill is not going unchallenged and that everyone supports it.

    Last November, both the House and the Senate changed from conservative to moderate Democratic control to GOP control for the first time since Reconstruction. It is their agenda that is being pushed now.

  • blueeyes90

    This really makes me sad. Wanna know what’s worse? My parents would most likely support this bill. Hell, they’re fine with the anti-immigration laws in Arizona.

  • Alicia

    “It forbids people from… harboring or giving a ride to undocumented immigrants.”

    I think this regulation would be especially tricky to pull off. In order to effectively enforce this, one would have to be able to prove that the person or persons knew they were harboring anyone undocumented. Most people do not do the whole “papers please” bit and ask others for their birth certificate and/or passport nor do most citizens carry that information around with them. “Reasonable suspicion” is also unclear and dangerous. One person may not have the “reasonable suspicion” that one isn’t a citizen and decide to harbor or give a ride to an undocumented person or persons.

    • konkonsn

      I feel like what will happen is people will stop giving rides or renting/leasing houses to anyone who looks undocumented (aka, people of color). I’m wondering, then, if they are challenged in court, if they’ll get away with discrimination based on the claim that they didn’t want to take chances on violating this law. It is, as Emolee said, an effort to basically make anyone who doesn’t look white enough an outcast.

  • Sarah

    Ugh, this is so embarassing for my state and makes us all look like racist jerks. I promise we aren’t all like this, in fact, as mentioned above, there are some pretty angry local groups right now that fully intend to challenge this.

  • Brüno

    If being anti gets you elected, politicians will compete over who can slam immigration abortion, etc. harder.

  • Matt

    By Wikipedia’s estimates, about 0.5% of Alabama population is believed to have illegally immigrated, compared with upwards of 4% for the national average. And while it is surprising that Wikipedia would have this statistic, the fact that Alabama’s illegal immigration is negligible makes laws like this patently silly for them.

    Unless Alabama’s execution of said laws is racist, and it asks all people to provide documentation, that’s going to be an awful lot of paperwork and effort just to try to ferret out ~24000 illegal immigrants.

    And yeah, the greater part of the law is probably unconstitutional…

  • Emolee

    “Unless Alabama’s execution of said laws is racist”- I’m sure it will be. What I imagine they mean when they say “anyone they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe may be undocumented” is people of color, specifically Latino/a people, especially those who may be poor and/or homeless. I seriously doubt they will be stopping white people on the street and asking them to see their passports. Although, they may ask people of all races who apply for need-based services (and public school?!) This bill *is* racist. And yes, many parts of it likely to be found unconstitutional. But even if it never passes- the message it sends is terrible.

  • Matt

    The law itself is racist, and while I presented a hypothetical alternative, I would expect the execution to also be racist. It’s just sort of interesting to point out the ridiculous cost:reward ratio in the event such a (racist) law was actually administered properly.

  • Emolee

    And your point is also good because the math is evidence suggesting that they *don’t* have the intention of applying it “equally.”