Moral Low Ground

US Government

Alabama Enacts America’s Toughest Anti-Illegal Immigration Law

… but not so welcoming or beautiful if you’re an undocumented immigrant.

Alabama’s governor has just  declared war on undocumented immigrants by signing into law a bill whose provisions make Arizona’s notorious SB 1070 look like a welcome mat for “illegals.” Alabama’s HB 56 is a shocking piece of legislation totally befitting a bumblefuck backwater state (I know, I lived there); a racist-motivated piece of discriminatory (white) trash. If you think my words are too harsh, consider what HB 56 actually does:

*It forbids the “harboring or transporting” of undocumented immigrants.

*It requires police to determine a person’s citizenship and immigration status during traffic stops, detentions and/or arrests if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person is an immigrant– “legal” or not.

*It requires a citizenship investigation of anyone registering to vote.

*It requires school officials in all public schools, grades kindergarten through 12, to determine the citizenship status of all students and to report annually on how many presumed undocumented immigrant students are in their schools.

*It outlaws the renting of property to undocumented immigrants.

*It bans knowingly hiring them to do any work within the state.

*It invalidates any contract to which an undocumented immigrant is party if any legal party in the contract has “direct or constructive knowledge” that the other party is in the country “illegally.”

*It bans undocumented immigrants from applying for or soliciting work.

*It twists the meaning and purpose of anti-discrimination laws by deeming it a discriminatory practice to terminate the employment or refuse to hire a “legal” resident when an “illegal” one is on the payroll.

*It bans undocumented immigrants from receiving any state or local public benefits.

*It bans undocumented immigrants from enrolling in or attending public colleges.

*It criminalizes “dealing in false identification documents.”

*It mandates that every business in the state verifies employees’ immigration status via the US government’s E-Verify system.

This is, by far, the toughest anti-“illegal” immigration bill in the entire United States. The bar of bigotry has been raised to a new level; Arizonans must be green with envy.

Governor Robert J. Bentley, a first-term Republican and a Southern Baptist deacon who recently declared that “anybody who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior [is] not my brother,” is positively reveling in the passage of HB 56. “We have a real problem with illegal immigration in this country,” he proclaimed. “I campaigned for the toughest immigration laws and I’m proud of the Legislature for working tirelessly to create the strongest immigration bill in the country.”

There are an estimated 120,000 undocumented immigrants in Alabama out of an overall population of around 4.7 million. That means “illegal” immigrants make up around 2.5% of the state’s population.

Opponents of HB 56 argue that it invites racial profiling and legalizes bigotry and discrimination.

“This draconian initiative signed into law this morning by Governor Robert Bentley is so oppressive that even Bull Connor himself would be impressed,” Wade Henderson, head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights,” told the Los Angeles Times. Bull Connor was the vile segregationist public safety commissioner in Birmingham during the tumultuous civil rights era; his officers brutally beat blacks, blasted them with powerful fire hoses and sicced dogs on them. “HB 56 is designed to do nothing more than terrorize the state’s Latino community,” Henderson continued.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already declared it will file a lawsuit opposing HB 56.

And not a moment too soon. This despicable bill is deeply rooted in the racism that has always permeated every fiber of Alabaman society. Sadly, Alabama isn’t alone in declaring war on undocumented immigrants. Georgia, Utah and Indiana have also passed anti-“illegal” immigrant laws that smack of discrimination. But Alabama’s HB 56 goes far beyond those other states’ measures.

One can only hope that, as with Arizona’s SB 1070, higher powers declare HB 56’s most disturbing provisions unconstitutional.

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