Alabama’s immigration bill is troubling

Michael Patrick

The state of Alabama came from behind to declare itself king of regression last week. Alabama legislators often get really antsy when other states are stealing the spotlight over being the most racist in America, and last week, Alabama’s legislators put the argument to rest by passing what some claim to be the strictest anti-immigration law yet.

Alabama’s legislature passed the final version of its anti-immigration bill last week, and now it only awaits the signature of the governor before it becomes law.

The bill is being extensively compared to the similarly controversial bill that was signed into law in the state of Arizona. State Republicans and multiple news sources are touting that it is the strictest law of its kind, stepping even further than the Arizona law.

Alabama’s bill covers many of the same issues as bills from Arizona and Georgia, especially in regards to punishing businesses that solicit help from undocumented workers and giving local law enforcement the authority to verify legal status of persons suspected of being in the country illegally.

That alone is controversial, because no matter how you try to dance around it, the ambiguity of “reasonable suspicion” does invite racial profiling, which is unconstitutional. Therefore, Alabama is guaranteed to face legal challenges.

In fact, the American Civil Liberties Union has already threatened to challenge the constitutionality of Alabama’s bill if Governor Robert Bentley does decide to sign it into law. The American Civil Liberties Union has likened the bill to segregation and has already begun building a case against it, because although Bentley’s official spokesperson said he’s going to spend the weekend looking over it, his call for stronger immigration laws on the campaign trail indicate that he will not find any trouble signing it.

And if that was not enough, Alabama’s law went a step further by disabling undocumented citizens from enrolling in any public college after graduating from high school and makes it a crime to rent property or housing to an illegal immigrant.

These provisions of the bill go against everything progressive immigration solutions propose and put the burden of undocumented citizens’ mistakes upon their children. This boils down to a simple question: Would we rather see undocumented citizens on the street or in the classroom?

This bill does nothing to help with the problem of illegal immigration, but instead attacks victims of a flawed immigration system.

It is important to keep Alabamians safe and create jobs for our citizens, but this isn’t the righteous path. We must remain principled and moral in our mission to keep Alabama great.

Representative Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, claims, “This is a jobs-creation bill for Americans.” But in reality, Republicans have yet to come up with any sustainable solutions for job creation in Alabama and have decided to blame our most disadvantaged brothers and sisters instead of actually creating jobs for Alabamians.

A bill similar to the one in Alabama and the law in Arizona was passed in Prince Williams County, Virginia in 2007. In three years, that law cost the county in Virginia approximately $3 million. Those figures, projected onto an entire state and including a hefty lawsuit, will cost taxpayers a hefty amount, all because we have allowed incompetent legislators to make it into office.

We as Alabamians should demand to see the jobs that our legislators promised us and not settle for the garbage our elected officials are calling “job creation.” We also have a right to a brighter future, and pulling children willing to learn out of the classroom can hardly qualify as a step toward a better tomorrow.

Legislators in Alabama owe their citizens substantive and sustainable investments in a future worth seeing, and in order to do that they must discontinue this attack on children and families.

 

Michael Patrick is a senior majoring in political science.