published Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Alabama's flawed immigration law

Arizona's enactment last year of what was then the harshest anti-immigration law in the land ignited a race among other pandering, Republican-controlled Legislatures to match or beat Arizona on the xenophobia scale. Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and Indiana, among others, rushed to pass similar crackdowns, but Alabama's stab at the issue has been the harshest. To make matters worse, a federal judge in Birmingham has now ruled that most of the law's provisions may go into effect pending a trial on their merits. The Justice Department cannot appeal the ruling by Judge Sharon Blackburn too soon.

On its face, the new law flouts fair treatment and constitutional protections for individuals, and is brutally punitive and discriminatory. Its provisions amount to an attack on children and families, and on workers' and individuals' rights to contracts and just treatment. Its broad-brush empowerment of state and local law enforcement agencies to demand to see personal documents of individuals whom police may assume to be undocumented aliens also amounts, at the least, to the sort of random profiling that courts have traditionally rejected.

The risks to families and children and their educational future owe to the law's requirement that elementary and secondary schools must determine the immigration status of all incoming students. That section is blatantly discriminatory, and egregiously harmful to our society. It also ignores research which shows that 88 percent of school-aged immigrant children were born in the United States and thus are American citizens. It further flouts settled law that public schools must be open to immigrants, regardless of their legal status, and may not legally hinder the enrollment of illegal immigrants.

Child advocates, faith groups and immigrant organizations reasonably fear, however, that the requirement for schools to confirm immigrant status may cause immigrant families to keep their children out of school to avoid entanglement in records' searches. They also rightly claim that the law wrongly attempts to make school employees legal agents of the state.

Other provisions are equally onerous and run counter to America's social and legal traditions. One would require state and local law enforcement officers to try to verify a person's immigration status in the course of routine traffic stops if the officer has "a reasonable suspicion" that the person is an illegal immigrant.

Another section would make an illegal alien's "willful failure" to carry federal immigrant documents a criminal offense in Alabama. Still another would render invalid any contract entered into by an illegal immigrant. That provision would allow lawless abuse of trusting immigrants by American employers, utilities, individuals and companies of all types.

Many Alabamians rightly oppose the GOP bill. Indeed, there are many grounds for opposition. The bill violates basic human rights and fair principles of justice. It encroaches on predominant federal immigration law and authority. It minimizes the value of immigrant economic activity and the productive value of immigrants' labor, and exaggerates the claimed cost of illegal immigration in Alabama. And it needlessly harms families and children who deserve better, fairer treatment.

Justice Department officials must quickly challenge the ruling and seek a stay of its provisions. More to the point, Congress should at last realize that it can not continue to dodge the need for a comprehensive reform of immigration laws, or allow the issue to be further used as a political football. The impact of disparate state laws on immigrants and their families, and the corrosive damage to American ideals and values, and to the nation's economy, have become too great to ignore any longer.

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timbo said...

To Harry Austin... I was recently in Costa Rica and had my "documents" checked twice. I wasn't speeding, stealing, or working illegally. It didn't bother me at all because I was there legally and had done nothing.

Maybe we need to stop road blocks that ask citizens for their "papers." When citizens are treated worse than people who have broken the law something is seriously wrong.

It is illegal to come to this county without going through the proper channels. Every other country in the world thinks we are a joke.

Stop pandering to the Hispanic vote. You're idiocy never ceases to amaze me.

October 4, 2011 at 7:31 a.m.
ArnoldZiffel said...

Timbo, excellent!!!! It is idiocy. ILLEGAL is ILLEGAL is ILLEGAL! Everyone else PROTECTS their borders but we have to justify it to you lefties. IDIOCY! Go to Mexico and see what happens to you if break in. Under BO citizens are now second class ciitzens and ILLEGAL ALIENS are sacred cows!!

October 4, 2011 at 7:45 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

Under Obama? And just who is hiring all these illegal immigrants? The federal government?

October 4, 2011 at 8:20 a.m.
conservative said...

A monologue by a demagogue.

October 4, 2011 at 9:15 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

L4F, I never claimed that illegals should not be here, nor did I claim that they don't (some) commit crimes. But to blame the presence on Obama is a bit of a stretch. If there was no hiring of illegals, they wouldn't come. Look no further than the businesses and farms that hire undocumented workers while we have 9% unemployment.

October 4, 2011 at 9:32 a.m.

L4F, all illegals commit crimes. They are criminals as soon as they shlup their pregnant wife across the border at 8.5 months pregnant to drop their pup.

October 4, 2011 at 9:41 a.m.

As to the flaws in the Alabama law, it seems the progressives have bet the farm on the illegals stealing the next election for them by voting illegally. That is the biggest flaw the demagogues see in laws like this.

October 4, 2011 at 9:47 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Corporate America hung out the welcome banner while a complicit government looked the other way. The desperatly poor and uneducated came by the millions, knowing that once they were past the game at the border, there were jobs waiting.

Hey, what's good for busness is good for America, was the attitude. Now times have gotten difficult and attitudes have hardened. Hate and revulshion have taken center stage and brought out the worst in us.

No, they should never have been allowed to work here without legal status, but WE ALL KNEW and did nothing. If our companies welcomed them, if our communities embraced can we now say these people are criminals and should be deported. We all have some collective responsibility for the current situation. To think that the answer is to destroy the lives of people who may have been here for decades is low, reprehensible, and beneath who we claim to be as a society.

October 4, 2011 at 11:19 a.m.
tinksama said...

Wow, this writer is a far-left reporter (imagine that!) that doesn't even attempt to appear unbiased. The resulting article is just an angry diatribe. I can almost picture their sputtering, red face. This is the sort of writing I expect on a forum, not in a news article.

October 4, 2011 at 5:10 p.m.

If the feds would just enforce the laws on the books, the states wouldn't have to waste time and money doing it for them. Seems the failure is with the fed. I guess they are too busy being "fast and furious".

October 5, 2011 at 12:07 p.m.
GrouchyJohn said...

"and is brutally punitive and discriminatory."

I consider it to be brutally punitive and discriminatory to require me to follow the law when they can flout it by being here illegally. Paying them under the table robs the tax rolls of income and increases my taxes. Why should I have to pay for these people and their kids to get free medical and education when 40% of my pay goes to pay taxes, but the majority of their pay goes back to Mexico, Central or South America.

Pull the troops home from the Sand Box, and use them to round up the illegals then have them build and guard the border wall that needs to be built. No, wait, that would also be illegal... you can't deploy US troops within their own country without a declaration of emergency. Our wonderful Muslim and Socialist President isn't going to do that even though the situation is entirely out of hand.... hundreds of thousands of illegals in this country is not an emergency????? We should also reduce the population of the prisons by simply doing what the Cubans did to us years ago. Load up the buses at the prison doors and dump the lowlifes 50 feet over the border and tell them to keep going or get shot.

Be glad I'm not the one writing the illegal immigrant laws. Now THAT would be brutal, punitive and definitely discriminatory. There would be no more "wetbacks", they would all become "wet going backs" and would like leave on their own before the laws went into effect.

October 9, 2011 at 9:18 a.m.
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