Moral Low Ground


Under HB 56, Alabama’s Harsh Immigration Law, American Children of Undocumented Immigrants Denied Food Stamps in Violation of Federal Law

An Alabama civil rights law firm claims that children who are U.S. citizens from families in which one or both parents are undocumented immigrants are being denied food stamps under the state’s harsh immigration law.

According to The Raw Story, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says that American children from at least five families have been refused benefits, with state officials from the Department of Human Services citing HB 56, the tough new anti-“illegal” immigration law passed last year. Under HB 56, it is illegal to conduct “business transactions” with undocumented workers.

“We have heard from a number of people that several localities in Alabama have adopted the policy that they’re required to verify the status of parents who are trying to help their kids apply for food stamps — even if they themselves are not applying for food stamps,” SPLC legal director Mary Bauer told The Raw Story.

“Of course, that is illegal under federal law,” she added. It is– U.S. citizens are entitled to benefits regardless of the citizenship status of their parents.

“The localities are essentially saying that they are required to do this by Alabama’s immigration law,” Bauer continued. “What that means is that we have hungry U.S. citizen kids who are unable to get the benefits to which they are legally entitled.”

Barry Spear, a spokesman for the Department of Human Services, told The Raw Story that the agency does not require proof of citizenship for services.

“We are unaware of any violations of the policy,” he said.

HB 56 author Scott Beason, a Republican state senator, told WBRC that SPLC’s allegations were “not necessarily factual.”

But the organization, one of the most venerable civil rights groups in the nation, is not known to make factually incorrect assertions.

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One Comment

  1. wildFebruary 12, 2012 at 6:51 amReply

    ummmm…the HB56 specifically requires : (f) No official of this state or political subdivision of this state shall attempt to independently make a final determination of whether an alien is lawfully present in the United States. An alien’s lawful presence in the United States shall be verified by the federal government pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1373(c). (g) Any United States citizen applying for state or local public benefits, except those benefits described in subsection (e), shall sign a declaration that he or she is a United States citizen.

    ~~~so it seems if your child’s status is legal, then be a responsible parent an hire a lawyer to sign the declaration with your child, benefit cannot be solely denied thru HB56 once the declaration of citizenship is in hand.

    I like this law HB56. And I’m not sure why The Raw Story framed the sentence as ‘does not require proof of citizenship for services’…which is true, however I think the real point is missed that verification of legal presence is actually the federal duty, that the state employee should be examining said results & verification for compliance with HB56.


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