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Tough illegal immigration law signed by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley
By The Associated Press, June 9, 2011

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama's governor today signed a tough new illegal immigration law that requires public schools to determine students' immigration status and makes it a crime to knowingly give an illegal immigrant a ride.

The bill also allows police to arrest anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant if they're stopped for any other reason. Alabama employers also are now required to use a federal system called E-Verify to determine if new workers are in the country legally.

Gov. Robert Bentley said the law is the nation's toughest, and groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center agree. The groups say they plan to challenge it.

The legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mary Bauer, said Thursday that she expects a lawsuit to be filed before the provisions of law are scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1.

“It is clearly unconstitutional. It's mean-spirited, racist and we think a court will enjoin it," Bauer said.

Sam Brooks of the SPLC's Immigrant Justice Project said the new law will set back progress Alabama has made on civil rights and race relations. He also said it would be costly for the state to enforce and defend the provisions of the law.

According to the 2010 U.S. census, 3.9 percent — about 186,000 — of the state's nearly 4.8 million people identified as Hispanic or Latino. That's more than double the number reported in the 2000 census.

One of the sponsors, Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale said the legislation would create jobs and put unemployed Alabama residents back to work.

“This will put thousands of Alabamians back in the workforce,” Beason said.

But Jared Shepherd, an attorney for the ACLU, said he doesn't believe the new law has anything to do with jobs.

This is about trying to put anti-immigration sentiment into law,” Shepherd said. He said the ACLU would join the SPLC and other groups in challenging the law in court.

He said he finds the provisions requiring schools to document the immigration status of students to be particularly troublesome. He said he is concerned that immigrant parents will not send their children to school out of fear that they will be arrested because of their immigration status.

Public schools will not be able to deny illegal immigrants an education, however. Bentley said the bill was intended to get data about how many illegal immigrants attend public schools.

Bentley, who campaigned on passing the toughest anti-illegal immigration bill possible, said he believes the measure can withstand legal challenges.

The House sponsor, Republican Rep. Micky Hammon of Decatur, said the bill was written so that if any part of it is determined to be unconstitutional or violate federal law, the rest will stand.

Alabama's measure was modeled on a similar law passed in Arizona. A federal judge blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona's law last year after the Justice Department sued. A federal appeals court judge upheld the decision, and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has said she plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Neighboring Georgia also passed a law cracking down on immigration this year, and civil liberties groups have filed a lawsuit trying to block it.

Linton Joaquin, general counsel for the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles, said the Alabama law stands out over other states because it covers all parts of an immigrant's life.

“It is a sweeping attack on immigrants and people of color in general. It adds restrictions on education, housing and other areas. It is a very broad attack. The state does not have the right to create its own immigration regime,” Joaquin said. He said his organization plans to be involved in lawsuits challenging the new law. He said the organization is involved in challenges in Utah, Arizona, Indiana and Georgia.

Employee identity ‘no match’ letters serious, immigration lawyer says
ROY L. WILLIAMS for the Birmingham News, May 27, 2008

An immigration lawyer told Birmingham businesses they must take seriously “no match” letters regarding employees the federal government believes may be working illegally in the U.S.

Robert Divine of Chattanooga, who heads Baker Donelson's immigration practice group, led a workshop in which he said many employers across the country get in trouble by ignoring or failing to respond quickly enough to “no match” letters sent when Social Security numbers used by workers don't match those on file with the Social Security Administration.
Ala. immigration bills unpassed as end of session nears
By BOB JOHNSON for The Associated Press, May 11, 2008

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A key issue for the Alabama Legislature going into the 2008 regular session was to find ways the state could curb the influx of illegal immigrants.

But despite the appeal of a crackdown to many conservatives, most of the legislation has gone nowhere.

Dozens of bills were introduced by Republicans and Democrats alike, but with only one day remaining in the regular session, no bill has passed and only three bills remain with a chance of receiving final approval.
Immigration Bills Die In Alabama Legislature
AP, May 7, 2008

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A House committee has approved a Senate-passed bill that requires people who apply for public assistance from the state to prove they are in the country legally. The bill by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on a voice vote and could be considered by the full House on May 19, the final day of the 2008 regular session.

With two days remaining in the session, most bills to control illegal immigration have died. Orr's bill and a measure to prohibit state agencies from entering into contracts with companies that employ illegal aliens are among the few that still have a chance of receiving final passage.
Patriotic Immigration Commission Makes Recommendations
By Jennifer Hale for NBC13, May 6, 2008

Alabama lawmakers have introduced more than 20 bills on immigration this session, making Alabama a "high activity" state, according to a report on immigration legislation by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Alabama has high activity of immigration legislation, report says - More than 20 bills introduced this year
By ERIN STOCK for the Birmingham News, April 25, 2008

Alabama lawmakers have introduced more than 20 bills on immigration this session, making Alabama a "high activity" state, according to a report on immigration legislation by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In its Immigrant Policy Project report, the conference classifies a total of 21 states as "high activity." NCSL reviewed state legislation on immigration between January and March this year.

Nationwide, at least 1,106 bills have been considered in 44 states. Twenty-six states have enacted 44 laws and adopted 38 resolutions or memorials. That's comparable to last year, the report found.
Illegal Immigration Bills Making Progress
By Governor Bob Riley's Office, March 27, 2008

MONTGOMERY – Governor Bob Riley is pleased the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved three bills related to illegal immigration that he included in his Plan 2010 second term agenda.

The three bills: require adults seeking government benefits to prove they are lawfully in the United States (HB 163); require employers to verify they do not employ illegal aliens in order to qualify for economic incentives awarded by the Alabama Development Office (HB 727); and prohibit the state and local governments from renewing professional or commercial licenses for those found to be in the country illegally (HB 298).

All three bills are sponsored by Representative Micky Hammon.

“These are important steps Alabama can take to combat illegal immigration. I commend the committee for approving them and urge the House and Senate to pass them during this legislative session. I also thank Representative Micky Hammon for sponsoring these proposals and for helping to move them forward,” said Governor Riley.
Committee approves immigration bill
Birmingham News, March 26, 2008

An Alabama legislative committee today approved a sweeping immigration bill, sending it to the Senate for debate.

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability Committee voted 10-0 for The Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2008, sponsored by Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale.

Among other things, the bill would prohibit employers from hiring people who don't have one of three state-issued IDs and fine employers who failed to maintain files documenting their employees' legal status.
Immigration bill hurts employers, some say
By Kym Klass for Montgomery Advertiser, March 25, 2008

The evils of workers coming across the U.S. border to steal American jobs is a popular issue for legislators, but it won't win Joe McDonald's vote.

McDonald wonders if he could even run his Andalusia cotton gin without the migrant workers who come into the state from Mexico -- he said it's hard to hire local workers for just a season, regardless of the wages.

"The situation we have without the migrants -- it wouldn't matter if we paid $7 or $37 an hour," said McDonald, who has hired migrants for 12 years at Covington Gin Co. Inc., about 90 miles south of Montgomery.

He said it's a job that doesn't appeal to most Alabama workers.
Congressman pushing for action on illegal immigration
By Eric Sollman for WAFF 48, March 19, 2008

There are lots of bills, acts, and resolutions out there promoting an answer to the ever-growing illegal immigration problem. There isn't legislation that's actually made it to law.

WAFF 48 Investigator Eric Sollman has the story.

Just last week, an Alabama Senate Committee couldn't come up with enough members for a vote on the issue.
Democrats Introduce Package Of Immigration Reform Bills
AP, 3/6/08

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Democrats in the Alabama House have introduced a package of bills aimed at controlling illegal immigration.

Republicans in the House and Senate have also introduced bills this session aimed at dealing with the illegal immigrant issue.

The bills introduced Thursday by Democrats include a bill by Rep. Randy Hinshaw of Meridianville that would give the state the authority to revoke the business license of a company that knowingly hires illegal immigrants.

Majority Leader Rep. Ken Guin of Carbon Hill says House leaders hope to bring the bills up for debate later this month.
Chinese restaurant owner arrested on immigration violation charges
By Matt Elofson for The Dothan Eagle, 2/28/08

Authorities arrested the owner of a local Chinese restaurant Thursday on felony immigration violations.

Houston County Sheriff’s deputies who were assisting agents with the Immigration Customs and Enforcement office arrested 31-year-old Hai Chao Liu on Thursday. Liu, of Crescent Drive, Dothan, was arrested around 11 a.m. at his restaurant, Dragon Garden Chinese Buffet on Ross Clark Circle, according to Houston County Sheriff Andy Hughes.

ICE agents took Liu to Mobile on Thursday, and he will be deported back to China in a few days. Liu had already failed to attend an immigration hearing.

“He was basically a fugitive from ICE,” Hughes said. “He had overstayed his tourist visa several years back.”

ICE agents seized his Chinese passport from his residence Thursday morning, Hughes said.
Alabama immigration bill draws concerns from business, industry groups - Tracking legal status would be employers' responsibility
By ERIN STOCK for The Birmingham News, 2/24/08

A sweeping immigration bill introduced in the Alabama Legislature last week has drawn concern from some business and industry groups who say it could place a burden on employers.

The Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2008 would prohibit Alabama employers from hiring anyone who doesn't produce one of three state-issued IDs. Employers also could be fined for failing to maintain files documenting their employees' legal status.

Rosemary Elebash, the Alabama state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, said the proposal could place a larger burden on small-business owners.
Senator Proposes Immigration Amendment
AP, 2/21/08


A state senator trying to crack down on illegal immigration wants to require everyone working in Alabama to show a state-issued ID to prove their legal residency.

State Senator Scott Beason says the point of the bill he introduced today is to get business owners to hire only legal workers.

Beason served a vice chairman of the Joint Patriotic Immigration Commission, which was created by the Legislature at Beason's request to study immigration issues. The committee recently presented recommendations to the Legislature, but did not propose any bills.