Alabama: Give an Immigrant a Ride; Go to Jail

Jun 9, 2011
Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

The governor of Alabama signed what he claims is the nation's toughest anti-illegal immigration law. Among the statute's provisions: public schools must determine immigration status of all students, it is a crime to knowingly give an illegal immigrant a ride and police are allowed to arrest anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant. The American Civil Liberties Union and Southern Poverty Law Center are not happy.

For a peppery debate, simply mix these protesters with the Alabama legislature. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

Reports the Associated Press:

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.

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.

Immigrant labor was essential to Alabama's formative industry and agriculture, but those early arrivals had even fewer rights than any undocumented immigrants currently working in the state.

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