Immigration Debate Moves to Alabama
Immigration reform took center stage last year when Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill into law that was considered to be the toughest immigration bill in the nation. The Arizona law requires all immigrants to carry their alien registration documents with them at all times, and requires law enforcement officers to question people if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally. This past week, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed an immigration enforcement bill into law that many are calling even tougher than Arizona’s.
Among other things, the bill makes it a crime for a person to be in the state without documentation. It also requires that schools collect information on the citizenship or immigration status of all students, and requires all businesses in Alabama to participate in the E-Verify program. E-Verify is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) program that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the U.S.
In the absence of federal immigration reform, Alabama’s new law is the latest in a growing trend whereby state lawmakers are taking immigration reform into their own hands. Arizona’s immigration law is currently being challenged in court, along with Georgia’s similarly tough immigration law. It remains to be seen whether Alabama’s new law will follow that path.