Federal Court Upholds Most of Alabama’s Draconian Anti-Immigrant Law

U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn ruled yesterday that the state of Alabama can implement most of its anti-immigrant H.B. 56 law, which is considered by many civil and human rights and immigration advocates to be the most draconian law of its kind in the nation.

“Alabama’s House Bill 56 is designed to do nothing more than terrorize the state’s Latino community by requiring them to carry and ‘show their papers’ in a way that makes racial profiling the state’s official law enforcement policy. It will keep children out of school and destroy families and businesses. The only possible end result of H.B. 56 is a permanent underclass in Alabama that would be further driven into the shadows of society,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed H.B. 56 into law in June as an anti-immigrant measure that goes even further than the legislation it is modeled on, Arizona’s S.B. 1070, which encouraged racial profiling by requiring law enforcement officers to stop, question, detain, and arrest anyone that they have a “reasonable suspicion” to believe is undocumented.

H.B. 56 includes Arizona’s “reasonable suspicion” clause and takes it a step further by authorizing the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to hire and maintain its own immigration police force. Following the judges ruling, Alabama will be able to enforce provisions of the law that turns Alabama schools into immigration agents by requiring them to verify the immigration status of students and report it to the state, and to require immigrants to carry their immigration documentation with them at all times.

The judge, however, blocked provisions of the law from taking effect that would make it illegal for an undocumented immigrant to work or attend a public university.

Following the passage of S.B. 1070 last year, nearly half of the nation’s state legislatures considered similar laws.However, amid growing concern about the hidden costs and growing public opposition — from the business community, law enforcement officials, and civil rights, faith, labor, and social justice organizations — many of these laws have suffered setback or defeat.

These copycat bill have only become law in four other states besides Alabama – Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah.