Will the strongest immigration bill in the country be weakened? Not if we can help it. Call your Senator and make it clear that you want them to pass SB541 if they decide to make any changes to the immigration law. HB658 is NOT acceptable!! Below are some good examples of how HB658 will weaken HB56.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF HOW HB 658 WEAKENS HB 56? (None of the following are in SB 541.)
HB 658 repeals the provision that makes it a crime to encourage/induce illegal aliens to move to/remain in Alabama. Yet federal law prohibits “encouraging or inducing aliens to come to or reside in the United States.”
HB 658 adds exclusion for churches or church-related organizations so they can knowingly conceal, harbor or shield aliens. There is exemption in federal law for bona fide nonprofit religious groups, but the exception in HB 658 is very broad and goes beyond that which is exempt under federal law.
HB 658 restricts definitions of “contractor” and “state funded entity” to mean only entities that receive more than 50% total revenue (within last three years) from public funds. HB 56 prohibits hiring of any unauthorized aliens and requires all contractors to use E-Verify.
HB 658 raises the bar of proof prohibitively high for employees to prove employers fired/replaced them with illegal aliens so that employers can get virtual immunity.
HB 658 removes the permanent revocation of business licenses after the second violation. Employers cannot be penalized if second and third violations are not within 5 years of first.
Senator Scott Beason, a co-sponsor of HB56, has introduced a bill (SB541) to tweak that legislation and make it easier to enforce and easier to defend in court. Sen. Beason’s bill was approved by a Senate Committee today and heads to the floor for a full vote. HB56’s original sponsor, Rep. Micky Hammon, has also introduced a bill (HB658)to address some issues with the immigration law, but many feel that it changes too much, thus endangering HB56 with the courts, and substantially weakens the original legislation. SB541, however, does exactly what GOP leaders promised they would do–it tweaks the law to make it more effective and more enforceable without making it weaker.
Please call your Legislators ASAP to let them know you support SB541 and want them to stand firm against weakening HB56.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.