Category: Immigration

HB 56 Myths v. Fact

The Federation of Americans For Immigration Reform (FAIR) has put together the following fact sheet on Alabama’s new immigration law.  As you can see, much of what the main stream media says about it has little basis in fact.  Before we start to discuss what changes, if any, should be made, it is important to understand what the legislation actually says and the legal authority behind it.  The information below is helpful in clearing much of that up!

 

 To view the full document, click here.

 

Evaluating Changes To Alabama’s Immigration Law

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_

 

A New Year, New Session, New Opportunities

Today marks the beginning of the 2012 session of the Alabama Legislature. A new session means opportunities and for Alabama, the opportunities are abundant.  Legislators will have the opportunity to pass meaningful education reform in the form of charter schools.  Basic principles of any market tell us that more competition leads to a higher quality across the board. And no one can deny Alabama schools could use some improvement.

Legislators will also have opportunities to help create jobs.  I say “help” because the state shouldn’t create jobs, but it should get out of the way and let the private sector begin putting Alabamians to work.  Legislators should remove obstacles to job creation and provide incentives for companies looking to locate or expand in our state. Several of these job creating measures are on the slate for the first week of the session including legislation giving economic development offices and the Governor more flexibility in offering tax incentives and a measure to allow the state to offer temporary state income tax incentives to offset build-up phase costs for companies bringing jobs to the state.

Last, but certainly not least, legislators will have the opportunity to stand strong on Alabama’s new immigration law.  There are those who want to weaken the law who will use language like “tweaking” or “making it easier to enforce,” but legislators should tread carefully.  While there are some legitimate fixes that need to be made, i.e.–adding military ID’s to the list of acceptable forms of identification, by and large, the law should be left as is.  Keep an eye on our website for more information on this issue.

Alabama legislators appear poised to take advantage of some of these opportunities and they deserve our support.  We just have to make sure they keep their eye on the ball and don’t get  distracted by those who want to keep running Alabama in the same old way.  After all, if we keep doing things the same way, we’ll keep getting the same result.  They say opportunity only knocks once, so here’s to giving our legislators the fortitude to open the door.

More Alabamians Back To Work After Passage Of Landmark Immigration Law

Opponents called the law evil, racist and defamed the character of those who supported it, but their attacks ring somewhat hollow now that evidence has shown it is working.  That’s right!  Alabama had one of the largest drops in unemployment in the country for the 3rd month in a row!  Unemployment has dropped from 9.8% when the law took effect in September 2011 to 8.1% as of December 2011.  The December 2011 drop from 8.7% to 8.1% was the largest in the country.  Below, Fox News discusses the trend and its correlation to the new immigration law.

Senators Reiterate Support For Alabama Immigration Law

Below is a letter to Governor Bentley reaffirming support for the immigration law from several Republican legislators.  We’re glad to see these elected officials standing up against all the pressure from the media!

After Passage Of Immigration Law, Unemployment Falls

According to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Alabama’s unemployment rate fell by 0.5% in October.  Compare that to the national unemployment rate which fell 0.1%.  Alabama also far out paced surrounding states.  Georgia and Mississippi’s unemployment rates both stayed steady, and Tennessee’s fell by 0.1%.

Coincidentally, September is the first month the new immigration law was in full effect.  While no one can conclusively say, it is reasonable to assume the law has been at least in part responsible for the drop.  Senator Bryan Taylor did a good job of explaining the impact in the Birmingham News last week:

While acknowledging it’s impossible to immediately prove whether Alabama’s strict new immigration law is driving down the state’s unemployment rate, state Sen. Bryan Taylor says there are signs it’s a real factor.

For one thing, the Prattville Republican who supports the bill said three of the five states that had the steepest unemployment rate drops in October have implemented new immigration laws. South Carolina, Utah and Alabama all have passed laws meant to curb illegal immigration, he said. The other two — Minnesota and Michigan — haven’t taken as tough a stance.

Alabama, Minnesota and Michigan each had a half-percent decrease in their unemployment rates last month, leading the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It’s hard to draw a causal relationship conclusively, but it’s certainly plausible,” Taylor said in an interview. “It’s interesting that every time there’s evidence to support the passage of the immigration laws, the opponents seem to shift their arguments to some other reason for being against the bill.”

Opponents of the law will forever deny any kind of causal relationship between the law and the decrease in unemployment, but it will be interesting to see if the rates continue to drop.  They claim illegal immigrants are leaving the state in droves, and someone has to fill the jobs they leave behind.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be putting more Alabamians back to work…

See also:

Unemployment Drops As Alabama Immigration Reform Enacted

Most Alabamians Believe Immigration Law Was Needed

AG Luther Strange Explains His Position on AL’s New Immigration Law

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange had a great op-ed in the Mobile Press-Register yesterday explaining his position on Alabama’s new immigration law.  A BIG thanks to Big Luther for doing such a wonderful job defending Alabama!

By LUTHER STRANGE

Special to the Press-Register

As the attorney general of Alabama, it is my duty to uphold and defend the laws of the state as they are passed by the Legislature and signed into law by our governor. Earlier this year, Alabama’s immigration law was passed and then signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley.

The law was immediately challenged, and my office has been litigating the issue in federal court.

Recently, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to certain Alabama school districts directing them to produce a laundry list of data. Because this particular issue received considerable attention in the media, I thought it would be helpful to ensure my position is clear regarding this matter.

This data — much of which is not currently collected by schools and would require many hours and scarce resources to compile — was purportedly sought by the Justice Department to determine whether the new law discourages children from attending school.

As counsel for the state superintendent of education in the ongoing litigation initiated by the Justice Department on these same issues, I advised the superintendent that the school districts were not compelled to reply.

Why? Because when the Civil Rights Division receives a complaint about alleged discrimination in Alabama schools, the law requires it to notify school officials and allow the schools and our state to take steps to correct the problem. We are still awaiting this information.

This theme of cooperation between the federal government and the states runs throughout federal law — from protecting civil rights in schools to enforcing federal immigration law. Congress has repeatedly instructed the federal government to work with states, not against them.

We are a nation of immigrants. That is one of our great strengths. I have personally recruited industry from around the world to Alabama. And those businesses are thriving here.

What is really at stake is the rule of law, on which all our freedoms are founded.

Everyone agrees that the existing immigration law should be enforced by the federal government. Unfortunately, the federal government has failed in its responsibility to enforce its own laws.

That leaves the states to deal with the issue, as we’ve witnessed in Arizona, Indiana, Utah, Georgia, South Carolina and here in Alabama. I have no doubt that other states will follow.

As this debate swirls and the political winds blow, I am and will continue to be focused on my job of enforcing the laws of Alabama through the proper legal channels. And I sincerely hope to have the cooperation of the Department of Justice in the process.

To those who’d like to inject the old images of Alabama from 1963, I reiterate what I have made clear from the day I took office: I have and will always enforce the law equally and fairly without regard to race, gender, ethnicity or political party.

My office is determined to see that all of our schoolchildren are protected from unlawful activity.

As I have said many times, Alabama officials are not going to do anything that violates any individual’s constitutional rights. Such illegal actions will not be tolerated as long as I am Alabama’s attorney general. That is where I stand.

Luther Strange is attorney general of Alabama. His email address is [email protected].

Great Profile Of Author of AL Immigration Law, Kris Kobach, In The Press-Register

In case you missed it, there was a great profile on Kansas Secretary of State (and the author of Alabama’s new immigration law) Kris Kobach in yesterday’s Mobile Press-Register.  They cite Eagle Forum of Alabama’s annual conference as Kobach’s first engagement in the state:

Kobach got his introduction to Alabama politics in 2007, through a conference hosted in Birmingham by the Eagle Forum of Alabama, a conservative think tank. There, he met state Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, who said the two developed a relationship that centered on their shared concerns about the nation’s immigration policy.

More On Yesterday’s Ruling On Immigration Bill

We’ve spoken with one of the nation’s top immigration lawyers, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who had this to say about yesterday’s ruling:

“The decision was a significant victory for Alabama.  Judge Blackburn sustained 75% of Alabama’s HB 56, including the most important sections.  This decision vindicates the Republican legislative sponsors of the bill, who were determined to address the problem of illegal immigration in Alabama.  They and I drafted the law carefully so that it would withstand judicial scrutiny, and that has proven to be the case.”

Kris also said the ruling will help other states wanting to deal with the issue of illegal immigration:

“Alabama’s victory will help other states that are trying to discourage illegal immigration too.  Judge Blackburn rejected most of the flawed reasoning of the Ninth Circuit’s decision striking down the Arizona law.  This decision stands as a strong counterweight to the Ninth Circuit.”

On that note, Alabama College Republican Chairman, Cliff Sims, has a great op-ed in today’s Daily Caller about the effect of Judge Blackburn’s ruling.  You can check it out here, but below are some highlights.

A Victory For The Rule Of Law

Today, U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn lifted a temporary injunction on key parts of Alabama’s new immigration law.  Known as the Beason-Hammon Taxpayer and Citizens Protection Act, the law is currently the strongest in the country.  The U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against the state and asked Judge Blackburn for an injunction to prevent the state from enforcing the law until the matter had been settled in court.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Blackburn issued a temporary injunction for 30 days while she considered the claims.  Today’s ruling issued a more permanent injunction on a few provisions of the law, but the majority of the law will be enforced starting October 1.

The Huntsville Times has a good run down of exactly which provisions were allowed to go forward and which were more permanently enjoined.

Blackburn upheld a provision of the state law related to police stops and detentions of people suspected of being in the country illegally.

She also upheld sections requiring schools to check the citizenship status of children and sections that would nullify contracts knowingly entered into with unauthorized aliens.

Blackburn also upheld a section making it a felony for “an alien not lawfully present in the United States” to apply for a license plate, driver’s license, business license or other business license.

On other provisions, Blackburn ruled the state:

» Can’t stop an “unauthorized alien” from seeking work as an employee or independent contractor.

» Can’t prosecute those who assist unauthorized aliens. She blocked a large section that would make it against the law to conceal, harbor, transport or encourage an illegal alien to stay in Alabama. This includes portions of the law referring to landlords.

» Can’t stop businesses from deducting the wages they pay to unauthorized aliens from their state taxes.

» Can’t create a new protected class of workers. The new law would have allowed workers who were fired or not hired in favor of unauthorized aliens to sue employers for discrimination.

Overall, the ruling was a victory for all those who support and believe in the rule of law.