Last year, we commended the Alabama legislature for having passed the toughest anti-illegal immigration law in the United States.  Now the trick is to keep it that way.  The law has already been partially upheld in federal court, so we’re off to a good start, but we recognize that some tweaks may be necessary.  We are currently evaluating the proposal by the original bill’s sponsor, Rep. Micky Hammon.  Keeping in mind that we still have questions that need to be answered and expert opinions to consider, we have several initial thoughts.

First, we are concerned about the sheer number of changes that are made.  The new version of the bill looks a lot different from the original version and we are worried the courts will think so too.  In fact, 22 of the 34 sections in the bill are changed–that’s a full two-thirds of the legislation.  Specifically, we’re worried the 11th Circuit might decide not to hear the current case since the bill they are now evaluating would no longer exist in that form.  This would mean we would have to start the entire legal process over again, and it could take years before we get closure on the law.

Our second concern is that a lot of the provisions being tweaked have already been upheld by the courts.  For example, HB56 requires a law enforcement officer during a lawful stop, detention, or arrest to conduct an immigration status check of individuals if the officer reasonably suspects the individual is illegally in the United States. (SeeH.B. 658, p.37; Ala. Code § 31-13-12).  HB658 limits the requirement to conduct immigration status checks to only situations where an individual is arrested or issued a traffic ticket. It expressly allows for immigration status checks of the passengers in a car, if the driver has been arrested or issued a traffic ticket. (H.B. 658, p.37)  The original provision was not enjoined by the court in the current lawsuit and we question the need for changes.

Finally, check out the analysis below prepared by the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform.  Please take a few minutes to review their assessment of the changes.  We share their concerns that many of these changes weaken the legislation.

Alabama HB 658 summary as introduced _4-10-12_