Despite fears of overcrowded jails and extended court sessions, Marshall County judges say they are seeing “virtually no effects” from Alabama’s new illegal immigration law.
“As far as the mechanics, I haven’t seen any increase in numbers of people going to jail. I haven’t even had a case under the law,” said Tim Riley, Marshall County District and Juvenile Court Judge.
“I think it may be making a change in that some people who are here illegally may be leaving. That’s just my guess. I’m seeing fewer Hispanic people with tickets. I still have them, but the number has substantially dropped. I’ve been kind of surprised. I thought there would be a sudden influx of cases.”
Marshall County Circuit Court Judge Tim Jolley said he too expected the law, known as HB56, to generate more cases, but he has seen little to no change in his work.
“I haven’t seen any increase in our case load or having to deal with issues in the immigration law or as a result of the law,” he said. “I initially thought there would be an increase, although I didn’t know how much of an increase. But actually there hasn’t been an increase.”
Marshall County District Judge Hugh Flanagan said he is not surprised by the lack of cases from the legislation.
“It seems to me that it’s not something that is an enforcement focus, necessarily, but it’s a tool they’re going to use when people are otherwise stopped or detained,” he said. “We didn’t see any in my courtroom. I just saw anecdotal evidence.”