From the Office of Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard
Every year legislators examine state laws to look for ways to make them better. Alabama’s illegal immigration law is no different. Make no mistake: the law will not be repealed or weakened. However, technical adjustments can be made to make sure the law is stronger and works better.
Proposed revisions are focused on clearing up misconceptions and correcting any portions that might be vague or require additional definitions. Many revisions are merely technical, while some are more substantive. All changes are aimed to maintain the strength of Alabama’s illegal immigration law, while making the law more workable for local governments, more enforceable for state and local police, and less burdensome for law-abiding citizens and businesses.
House Bill 658 would:
Keep and strengthen penalties for breaking illegal immigration laws by
- Increasing the penalty period for suspension of a business license for any business caught hiring illegal immigrants from 10 days to 60 days.
- Introducing a three-tiered penalty scheme that provides for tough but fair consequences for consecutive offenses.
- Heightening penalties for the concealment or harboring of illegal immigrants for offenses involving five of more aliens. Make the law more workable and user-friendly for law-abiding citizens, local municipalities and businesses by
- Simplifying the verification process for public benefits and services, while maintaining strict standards.
- Clarifying potentially vague language and providing additional definitions to eliminate uncertainty for businesses and local governments in everyday dealings.
- Aligning language applying to public and private sector transactions to ensure consistency in enforcement. Help state and local law enforcement better utilize the law to crackdown on illegal immigration, per their recommendation, by
- Strengthening the role of the Attorney General and local district attorneys in bringing legal action against accused lawbreakers.
- Allowing officers more flexibility in verifying the status of a suspected illegal immigrant in a traffic stop.
- Extending “reasonable suspicion” beyond the diver of a vehicle to include passengers in the event of a traffic citation or arrest. Adjust certain sections in accordance with federal law so they may be enforced
- Simple revisions to section 8 will allow the state to ensure illegal immigrants cannot attend public colleges and universities.
- Aligning the concealment and harboring provisions in section 13 to federal law will allow the state to enforce that critical section as well.
Clarifying the contracts provisions in section 27 to apply prospectively could lead to an injunction being lifted and allow that section to be enforced.
An exhaustive section-by-list of proposed bill revisions is on the following pages.
Specific proposed revisions to Alabama’s illegal immigration law
Section 3: Provides definitions for certain words and phrases used in the bill.
- Narrowing the scope of “Contractor” to exclude those who merely “provide a certain product” in exchange for consideration.
- Clarifying that the agreements a “Contractor” enters into must either be required to be competitively bid (i.e., over $7,500) or submitted to the Joint Legislative Contract Review Oversight Committee (i.e., personal or professional services).
- Changing the definition of “Lawful Presence or Lawfully Present” to include a Military ID and an Alabama driver’s license that expired within the then preceding six months.
- Defining a “Project” as the providing or creating or delivering of a tangible good (yet not including a transaction in goods).
- Clarifying the definition of “State-Funded Entity” to mean only those entities that received 50 percent of their revenue in one of the preceding three years from a public source.
- Clarifying that “Business Entity,” “Contractor,” “Employee,” “Employer,” and “Subcontractor” apply only to those persons employed in or performing a labor or service in the state.
- Clarifying that “Employee” does not include any inmate in the legal custody of the state, a county, or a municipality. Sections 5 & 6: Provides for the enforcement of federal and state immigration laws. o Revisions:
- Providing that persons have the right to petition the Attorney General or the appropriate local district attorney to bring an action against an official for that official’s failure to act, rather than have the power to bring an action on their own. And requiring a district attorney or the Attorney General who does not file an action to publicly state their justification for such a decision.
- Providing that any petition be signed under oath and under penalty of perjury, and allege any facts with specificity. And requiring that the Attorney General give the official or agency head 30 days notice of intent to file an action.
- Eliminating language stating that each side on any litigation considered within this act shall bear their own litigation costs unless otherwise ordered by the court.
- Clarifying that “official or agency head” does not include a law enforcement officer or personnel employed in a jail, except for a sheriff or a chief of police. Section 7: Prohibits an unlawfully present alien from receiving a state or local public benefit. o Revisions:
- Clarifying that the entity charged with verifying the lawful presence of an applicant should be the entity that both funds and administers a state or local public benefit.
- Clarifying this section would only apply to the first issuance after the effective date of this act of a commercial or business license that is a state or local public benefit; verification would not be required for subsequent renewals of such licenses. Section 8: Prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving public postsecondary educational benefits. o Revisions:
- Deleting the section’s second sentence – “An alien attending any public postsecondary institution in this state must either possess lawful permanent residence or an appropriate nonimmigrant visa under 8 U.S.C. § 1101, et seq.” – to be consistent with the state’s litigation position on this section.
- With that sentence deleted, the court’s reason for enjoining the section is eliminated. This change should lift the injunction and allow the section to be enforced.
Section 9: Requires contractors doing business with public entities to enroll in “E-Verify” and prohibits them from employing an illegal worker.
- Providing that a contractor would not be liable for his direct subcontractor unless it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that the contractor had actual knowledge that the direct subcontractor violated the section.
- Clarifying that any compliance verification can be performed by either the contracting authority or by the Attorney General at any time.
- Implementing a three-tier penalty scheme, with the second and subsequent penalty provisions being triggered only if the offenses fall within five years of the previous offense. The penalties would include terminating employees, terminating a contract, subjecting the business entity to probation, and suspending the licenses or permits of the business.
- Providing that this section shall not apply to agreements by the state, any political subdivision thereof, or any state-funded entity relating to debt obligations by such entities.
Sections 10 & 11: Provides that failing to carry an alien registration document is a Class C misdemeanor, and prohibits an unauthorized alien from applying for, soliciting, or performing work.
- Clarifying that official records received from the federal government require no additional authenticity in order to be admissible in court.
- Clarifying that the penalties for violating these sections are Class C misdemeanors.
Section 12: Authorizes state, county, or municipal law enforcement officers to attempt to determine a person’s citizenship status if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is unlawfully present in the United States.
- Expanding the verification window from 24 hours to “as soon as reasonably possible, but not later than 48 hours after the arrest.”
- Clarifying that the “reasonable suspicion” calculations occur upon the issuance of any traffic citation or upon any lawful arrest, rather than upon any lawful stop, detention, or arrest.
- Extending the “reasonable suspicion” calculation beyond the driver to the passengers in a vehicle where the driver has been issued a traffic citation or has been lawfully arrested.
Section 13: Prohibits concealing, harboring, transporting, renting property to or encouraging the entry into the state of an illegal immigrant.
- Eliminating the specification that renting to an illegal alien is the same as harboring an illegal alien.
- Making the subsection exempting religious activities mirror federal law.
- Eliminating the vague provision that encouraging/inducing an alien to come to the state is a crime.
- Clarifying that this section will be interpreted in the same manner that federal courts interpret the parallel federal harboring provision.
- Establishing heightened penalties for situations involving five or more aliens (the legislation currently heightens certain penalties when there are ten or more aliens involved).
Section 14: Prohibits dealing in false identification and other vital records.
- Clarifying that merely reproducing a false identification document is not a violation of the statute.
- Clarifying that for a violation to occur, the prohibited actions must be taken to intentionally further a scheme to facilitate an unauthorized alien’s employment or presence in the United States.
Section 15: Prohibits businesses from knowingly employing an unauthorized alien while also requiring every employer to enroll in the federal E-verify program.
- Making the contracting, compliance, and penalty portions of this section the same as in Section 9.
- Clarifying that this section shall not apply to debt obligations by public entities.
- Providing that this section become effective immediately upon passage and approval by the Governor, rather than on April 1, 2012. Section 17: Prohibits the discriminatory practice of failing to hire or firing a legal resident while retaining or hiring an illegal immigrant. o Revisions:
- Requiring petitioners to show further cause that the decision to fire or not to hire is because the employer intended to discriminate against the person bringing the action.
- Further clarifying that it is not unlawful to fire or not hire someone for a legitimate business reason.
- Providing that a person that files a frivolous claim under this section would be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor. Section 18: Requires law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of a person failing to present a drivers’ license. o Revisions:
- Clarifying that a person who violates Section 32-6-1 (driving without a license) or 32-6-9 (a licensee that cannot produce his license) shall have their citizenship determined as soon as possible, but not later than within 48 hours.
- Deleting the requirement of transporting the person to the nearest and most accessible magistrate.
Section 19: This section provides that persons charged with a crime for which bail or confinement is required must have their immigration status verified within 48 hours
- o Revision: Specifying that the verification window discussed in this section (48 hours) be changed to “as soon as reasonably possible, but not later than 48 hours after the arrest.”
Section 20: Provides that the federal government shall be notified within thirty days prior to an unlawful alien’s release from custody or when an unlawful alien has paid any fine as required by operation of law, and also provides that the Department of Corrections must maintain custody of the individual during the transfer of custody to the federal government.
- Eliminating the words “or has paid any fine as required by operation of law” so as to clarify that this section was intended to concern illegal aliens who are already lawfully in custody.
- Clarifying that, instead of a referring only to the Department of Corrections, refer to the “agency responsible” for the person’s incarceration.
Section 21: This section provides that proceedings brought under this act shall be stayed if the person against whom charges are brought is a crime victim, the child of a crime victim, a critical witness in any prosecution, or the child of such a witness.
- o Revisions: Expanding this exception to include the parents of a victim of a crime or a critical witness of a crime, if the witness is a minor.
Section 24: Requires the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to file quarterly reports with the Legislature on the progress being made regarding the enforcement of the statute, as well as the status of the progress being made in the effort to reduce the number of illegal aliens in the state.
- Requiring annual reports, rather than quarterly reports.
- Authorizing the department to request proof of E-verify enrollment from a business that is the subject of a written complaint alleging violations of this act.
- Requiring the department to maintain a toll free telephone hotline or website for the purpose of receiving tips from the general public regarding possible violations of this act.
Section 27: Prohibits the enforcement of a contract between a party and an unlawful alien, with certain exceptions.
- Specifying that this section apply prospectively, i.e., only to contracts entered into after the effective date of the act; and
- Clarifying that this section be amended so that it does not apply to the appointment or retention of legal counsel in legal matters.
Section 28: Requires school districts to obtain data, to be aggregated and disseminated by the State Board of Education, regarding the numbers of United States citizens believed to be enrolled in the public schools of the state.
- Requiring the State Superintendent, rather than each local school system, to attempt to ascertain the fiscal impact to our state’s educational system of educating students who are the children or, or in the custody and care of, persons unlawfully present in the United States.
- Requiring the Superintendent’s analysis to be published in an annual report.
Section 29: Requires the Secretary of State to create a process for local elections officials ensure those registering to vote provide information verifying their U.S. citizenship. This section also created a three-person State Election Board empowered to assess information provided by any applicant for voter registration as evidence of citizenship.
- o Revision: Eliminating the State Election Board and replacing references to a “county election officer” with references to the “county Board of Registrars.”
Section 30: Prohibits business transactions between the state and an unlawful alien.
- Clarifying that “business transaction” applies the first issuance of a license plate, driver’s license, identification card, or business license after the effective date of this act.
- Amending the list of documents that can be provided in order to enter into a business transaction be amended to include the following:
- A driver’s license or identification card issued by any state’s DMV provided that the other state’s DMV requires proof of lawful presence as a condition of issuance; o The state’s AL-Verify system; and o Military ID; and
- Allowing the Alabama Department of Revenue to promulgate regulatory authority to allow additional forms of identification to serve as proof of citizenship or legal residence, so long as those forms require proof of lawful presence as a condition of issuance.
Section 34: Provides for effective dates of the various sections of the act. o Revision: Providing that the act, in its entirety, become effective immediately upon passage and approval by the Governor.
Trump Truck and boat parades this weekend
As Election Day draws near, Alabama Republicans are excited about promoting the re-election of Donald J. Trump as President and the election of Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate. This weekend two pro-President Trump events are happening in the state. There will be a truck parade from Ashland to Phenix City on Saturday sponsored by the Clay County Republican Party, while there will also be a boat parade on Wilson Lake in the Shoals sponsored by the Colbert County Republican Party on Sunday.
The pickup trucks will assemble at the Ashland Industrial Park in Clay County, 8240 Hwy 9, Ashland. There is a pre-departure rally at 10:00 a.m. central standard time. The trucks will depart at 11:00 a.m. and then proceed on a parade route that will take them into the bitterly contested swing state of Georgia. The Trump Pickup Parade will wind through east Alabama and West Georgia traveling through LaGrange and Columbus before concluding near the Alabama/Georgia line in Phenix City, 332 Woodland Drive, Phenix City at approximately 2:00 p.m. central time. Speakers will begin at 3:00. Trump flags will be on sale at the event.
The Phenix Motorsports Park will be hosting what sponsor hope could possibly the world’s largest Pickup Tuck parade in U.S. history that is routing over 50 mile through Georgia in effort to “pickup” President Trump’s numbers in GA.
A number dignitaries have been invited to address the Phenix City rally, including Coach Tuberville. Former State Sen. Shadrack McGill, Trump Victory Finance Committee member former State Rep. Perry O. Hooper Jr., and Paul Wellborn, the President and CEO of the largest Family owned Kitchen Cabinet manufacture in the USA are among the featured speakers who have committed to speak at the event.
Entertainment will be provided by: Charity Bowden, an up and coming country music singer who was the runner up on “The Voice”. Charity will sing ‘I am Proud to be an American’ as well as songs from her Voice performances. The McGill Girls will also perform. The three beautiful and talented sisters will be singing patriotic songs in three part harmony. Geoff Carlisle, a professional DJ will be keeping the crowd pumped with music and entertainment.
Following the speakers and the entertainment there will Trump truck-vs- Joe Bidden truck races down the drag strip for the finale.
The Northwest Alabama boat parade will be on Sunday. The boats will gather at 2:00 p.m. near Turtle Point and then the flotilla will parade around the open waters of Wilson Lake til 3_00 p.m.. There will be a contest for best decorated Trump boats.
Trump supporters have held a number of large boat parades across the state to show their support for the re-election of Pres. Trump.
Boat parade sponsors say that this parade will be: pro-American, pro-law enforcement, pro-military.
COVID-19 hospitalizations, new cases continue to rise
The number of rising hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Alabama is a concerning sign of a possible coming surge of the disease, state health experts said Friday. Alabama hospitals were caring for 888 coronavirus patients Friday, the highest number since Sept 9.
UAB Hospital was caring for around 80 COVID-19 inpatients Friday afternoon, said Dr. Rachael Lee, an infectious disease specialist at UAB, speaking to reporters Friday. UAB Hospital hasn’t had that many coronavirus inpatients since Aug. 18, when the disease was surging statewide.
“We have been dealing with this since March, and I think it’s easy for us to drop our guard,” Lee said.
Alabama added 3,852 new coronavirus cases on Friday, but 1,287 of them were older positive antigen tests, conducted in June through October and submitted to ADPH by a facility in Mobile, according to the department. Still, Alabama’s daily case count has been increasing, concerning health officials already worried that as the weather turns colder and the flu season ramps up, Alabama could see a surge like the state had in July.
Alabama’s 14-day average of new daily cases was 1,247 on Friday, the highest it’s been since Sept 4. Over the last 14 days, Alabama has added 17,451 new COVID-19 cases.
Friday’s inclusion of those older positive test results throws off the day’s percent positivity, by Thursday the state’s percent of tests that were positive was nearly 16 percent. Public health officials say it should be at or below five percent or cases are going undetected.
The state added 16 COVID-19 deaths on Friday, bringing to total confirmed deaths statewide to 2,859. Over the last two weeks, 206 deaths were reported in the state. Alabama’s 14-day average of new daily deaths on Friday was 15.
Alabama state health officer Dr. Scott Harris told APR by phone Friday called the rising new cases and hospitalizations “worrisome.”
Harris noted the data dump of older confirmed cases in Friday’s data, but said “but nevertheless, I think it’s clear our numbers are going up.”
Harris said it’s not yet clear what’s causing the continued spread, but said it may be due at least in part to larger private gatherings. ADPH staff has mentioned a few outbreaks association with such gatherings, but Harris said it’s hard to know for certain if that’s the major driver in the state’s rising numbers.
“It’s football season and the holidays are coming up and school is back in session,” Harris said. “I think people are just not being as safe as they were.”
Harris noted that on ADPH’s color-coded, risk indicator dashboard, red counties, which denotes counties with rising cases and percent positivity, the 17 red counties on Friday were distributed across the state.
“So there’s not one event, or even a handful of events. It seems like there’s just a lot of things happening in a lot of places,” Harris said.
Alabama’s rising numbers are mirrored in many states. The U.S. reported more than 71,600 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, nearing the country’s record highs, set in July.
Birmingham approves $1.3 million contract for real-time crime center technology
Woodfin repeated that facial recognition capabilities will not be used in accordance with the contract.
The Birmingham City Council approved a five-year, $1.3 million contract with Motorola this week to provide new technology for the police department’s real-time crime center amid unease and public concern over the potential use of facial recognition software within the new systems.
Mayor Randall Woodfin insisted in his remarks made before the council that the new technology is meant to integrate existing hardware and technology inside the real-time crime center. “You’re not buying any additional new equipment,” he said, “You’re buying something to integrate all those systems.”
The software suite includes Motorola Solutions’s CommandCentral Aware, a system that aggregates video, image and other data information into one interface, and BriefCam, a “video synopsis” system that will further integrate and analyze information from Birmingham’s ShotSpotter systems, public cameras and police body cameras.
Briefcam offers facial recognition capabilities, which was the main concern of community members speaking before the council, and the risk that use of the technology could disproportionately affect Black people. Facial recognition technology has a record of racial bias and misidentifies Black people at rates five to 10 times higher than white people.
“Despite assurances that there will not be facial recognition implemented at this phase that does not prevent it from being implemented in the future,” said Joseph Baker, Founder of I Believe in Birmingham and one of the Birmingham residents voicing concern on the proposal. “I believe that this software, if fully implemented, can easily lead to violations of unreasonable searches.”
Another resident who spoke against the resolution was Byron Lagrone, director of engineering at medical software solutions company Abel Healthcare Enterprises. Lagrone pointed to IBM and Amazon as examples of companies that have halted or abandoned facial recognition and object tracking software altogether over racial bias concerns.
“The prevailing attitude, among technical people is this technology is not effective, and it causes high amounts of harm for next to no gain,” Lagrone said.
Woodfin repeated that facial recognition capabilities will not be used in accordance with the contract.
“It’s explicit in this contract that facial recognition will not be used,” Woodfin said, “[If] facial recognition wants to be used in the future of this city. It would have to be approved by this body. … The mayor’s office or the police department doesn’t have unilateral power to use facial recognition. That is not part of what our contractual relationship is with Motorola.”
Woodfin also clarified that the total $1.3 million price of the contract will not be paid as a lump sum but spread out over the five-year commitment.
The city council voted 8 to 1 to approve the contract, with District 8 Councilman Steven Hoyt speaking in favor of the use of facial recognition capabilities.
“You can’t say, ‘I’m going to build a house but I’m not going to use the restroom,’” Hoyt said. “If it’s in the house, you’re going to use the restroom. … If it has the capability of facial recognition, guess what’s going to happen? You’re going to use it. I’m going to vote for it because I know we’ve got to have every tool we can garner to fight crime, because it’s out of hand.”
Hoyt also suggested a review of the information collected by the new system apparatus.
“I do think, for the public’s sake, we need to have some way we review that and see how it’s being used,” Hoyt said. “We need that to go along with this.”
District 3 Councilwoman Valerie A. Abbott — who said she was the victim of a burglary the day before the vote — echoed the mayor’s insistence that the facial recognition capabilities would not be deployed unless authorized by the city council, reading a letter from Motorola stating “in order to enable facial recognition, Motorola will require an addendum or change order to the contract,” which would have to come before a public meeting of the city council.
“I too would not want facial recognition,” Abbot said, “I’m voting in favor of this because the majority of my constituents are telling me they want more and better policing, capture of criminals, prevention of crime.”
District 5 Councilman Darrell O’Quinn was the lone no vote among the near-unanimous city council, stating that he had “some reservations about how we’re doing this and will vote my conscience.” Later, O’Quinn was quoted in BirminghamWatch, saying his vote reflected his concerns about “taking on a new debt obligation in the midst of a projected $63 million shortfall in revenue.”
Opinion | Doug Jones’s pathway to victory: Substance over lies
Jones said his work in the Senate should prove to the people of the state that party matters less than productivity.
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones believes voters will ultimately see through Tommy Tuberville’s lazy campaign and lies, and that enough of them will be moved by his work over the last two years to send him back to D.C.
Jones’ comments came during a lengthy interview on the Alabama Politics This Week podcast. He also discussed his plans to address some of Alabama’s most pressing issues and also praised Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican.
But it was Jones’ comments about Alabama voters — and whether too many of them are incapable of moving away from the Republican Party — that were most interesting. Jones still believes there are open-minded voters in the state, and that there isn’t enough attention being paid to polls showing a growing dissatisfaction in Alabama with President Donald Trump.
“There are a number of things that Donald Trump has done that people (in Alabama) don’t agree with,” Jones said. “There are a number of things that he’s done that’s hurt Alabama and that they’re not OK with. That’s where I come in.”
Jones said his work in the Senate, where he’s sponsored the most bipartisan legislation over the last two years, should prove to the people of the state that party matters less than productivity.
“I tell everyone, you owe it to yourself to look at every candidate and every issue,” Jones said. “I do that. I’ve been a Democrat all my life but I don’t think that I have ever pulled a straight lever. Because I look at every issue. I will tell you that there have been times that I didn’t vote for people who are Democrats for whatever reason — I just couldn’t do it. I think we owe it to ourselves to do that.”
Jones had the perfect example to drive the point home.
“Y’all all know our state auditor, Jim Zeigler? Jim wasn’t always a Republican. Jim’s first runs for office were as a Democrat.
“I rest my case.”
You can listen to the full interview at the Alabama Politics This Week website, or you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.