Alabama Attorney General: Revise Immigration Law
As Alabama’s Attorney General, Luther Strange has the unenviable duty of defending his state’s draconian immigration law. Now, in a letter to state lawmakers, he is recommending that the state make significant changes to the law in an attempt to make it more palatable in court.
Under Strange’s recommendations, some of the law’s most controversial provisions would be eliminated, many of which are already temporarily blocked by legal injunction. Among the law’s portions that Strange advocates repealing are:
- The requirement for state schools to check the immigration status of students
- The requirement for immigrants to carry immigration-related papers at all times
- The section allowing charity organizations, including churches, to be prosecuted for aiding undocumented immigrants
- The provision permitting citizens to sue public officials who fail to enforce the law
Strange’s call comes at a time when the law is increasingly under fire. Alabama officials are still reeling from embarrassment after foreign auto executives were charged for having insufficient identification. Business and political leaders alike fear that incidents such as these will discourage investment in the state. And concerns over the law’s impact on immigrant labor are so great that the Alabama Department of Agriculture may have look to prison inmates to replace migrant workers. (If you don’t see the irony here, turn to Stephen Colbert.)
The U.S. Justice Department, already involved in a suit against the law, applied more pressure last week when it warned Alabama police against discriminating while enforcing the state’s law. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez threatened to pull federal funding from Alabama’s 156 police agencies should officers violate federal statutes prohibiting racial profiling.
On Friday, amidst the growing public and legal pressure, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley acknowledged that “changes are needed to ensure that Alabama has not only the nation’s most effective law, but one that is fair and just, promotes economic growth, preserves jobs for those in Alabama legally, and can be enforced effectively and without prejudice.”
Coupled with the Supreme Court’s upcoming review Arizona’s immigration law—the law which started the disturbing trend of draconian immigration policies at the state level – the efforts made by Alabama officials to reform their state’s law will be monitored closely.
Devon Brown is an intern with Campus Progress.