Alabama Immigration Law

The Alabama immigration law, House Bill 56, has been a hotly debated and widely discusses political issue in the media over the past several months since it was enacted. This immigration bill, entitled, Hammon-Beason Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, was signed into law in June of 2011 and since then has been met with significant opposition and controversy.

What is Alabama Immigration Law House Bill 56?

House Bill 56 was created largely by Kansas’ Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, as an anti-illegal immigration bill meant to deter the presence of illegal immigrants in the state. It was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate of Alabama before being signed into effect on June 9, 2011 by Alabama Governor, Robert Bentley.

The law was slated to take effect in Alabama by the start of September 2011, but legal action was taken against the bill on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. This delayed enforcement of the bill until September 28, 2011, which a United States District Court judge agreed to allow the enforcement of certain parts of the law. The constitutionality of the law is still being debated and a number of provisions of the bill are on hold while the measure is before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Alabama Republicans supporting the bill have claimed that House Bill 56 is the strictest crackdown on illegal immigration that currently exists in the United States. They insist that it is even more stringent than the recent controversial immigration law in Arizona, SB 1070.

What are the provisions of House Bill 56?

Under the Alabama immigration law, there are several new restrictions and requirements made of law enforcement officials as well as laypeople in the state of Alabama. If there is reasonable suspicion that a person may be an illegal immigrant, or otherwise unlawfully present in the United States, police officers must check the immigration status of this person if stopped while driving in Alabama.

All businesses in Alabama, under House Bill 56, are required to validate the immigration status of their employees by using the United States’ E-Verify program, an online program that takes the information from the employee's Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form) and compares it with United States government records. If both sets of information do not match, the employee is deemed ineligible to work in the United States.  It is also illegal under House Bill 56 for illegal immigrants to apply for a job in Alabama.

Also included in the law was a provision prohibiting the transport or harboring of illegal immigrants by any person in Alabama. This includes renting property to illegal immigrants and hiring illegal immigrants for any job within the United States. These provisions are currently blocked while their constitutionality is under review.

Finally, it is forbidden for illegal immigrants to receive state or local public benefits, such as attending public universities in Alabama. It is also a requirement under the Alabama immigration law that public elementary, middle and high schools check the immigration status of all new students planning to attend.

What are the consequences of House Bill 56?

Shortly after courts ruled in late September 2011 to uphold the law in large part, attendance of Hispanic students at public schools in Alabama dropped significantly. This is presumed to be a direct result of the provisions regarding illegal immigrant students in House Bill 56. Farmers are also suffering due to a shortage of migrant laborers, because Americans are often unwilling to accept the pay and conditions of such farm labor. The majority of the impact that House Bill 56 will have in Alabama, however, has yet to be seen.

  • Written by: M Spatz
  • Wednesday, 11 January 2012