The governor of Alabama has signed a controversial immigration law into effect. The new law aims at cutting down on the presence of illegal immigrants by using tactics similar to those authorized in the Arizona immigration law that was passed last year.
Civil liberties group planning lawsuit
The American Civil Liberties Union has pledged to file a lawsuit against the recently passed Alabama immigration law, according to the Los Angeles Times. The ACLU has slammed the law as being “draconian” and unconstitutional. The law is similar to the controversial Arizona immigration bill from last year, SB 1070, in that law enforcement officers have to check the citizenship status of any person they suspect of being an illegal immigrant. The law stipulates that the officers are required to make “reasonable” efforts to check a person’s citizenship should there be a “reasonable” cause for suspicion. However, there doesn’t seem to be much mention of what “reasonable suspicion” might be, except for not being able to produce sufficient documentation when stopped by police, according to Reuters.
Potential consequences are dire
There are a raft of potentially damning consequences if a person gives aid to an illegal immigrant. Governor Robert Bentley acknowledged that he signed a “tough” law, though he maintains that immigration reform was a cause that he has campaigned for. It is a crime, under this new law, to knowingly provide transportation for or harbor an illegal immigrant. People are forbidden from renting illegal immigrants’ property or knowingly employing them, and employers, according to Time, have to check a suspected illegal immigrants’ status through the federal E-Verify system. Public schools have to report suspected illegal immigrants to state authorities and document the number of suspected illegal immigrants among the students. Illegal immigrants cannot apply for college, be accepted by one, or apply for or receive any public benefits.
Lawsuit may impede enacting of law
Provisions of the law are scheduled to come into effect in September and again in April of 2011. However, the law will have to survive any legal challenges. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit group that champions civil liberties and has waged many successful suits against racist organizations such as the Klu Klux Klan and others, is also intending to file suit against the law. Governor Bentley maintains that he signed the bill with the intention of getting more people in Alabama employed, as the state has an unemployment rate at about the national average. Alabama is estimated to have fewer than 200,000 illegal immigrants. Portions of the controversial Arizona law that served as this law’s inspiration have been blocked by federal courts, according to CNN. However, Arizona governor Jan Brewer announced recently she intended on appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-alabama-immigration-20110610,0,4204688.story
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