By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Opponents of Alabama’s anti-illegal immigration bill (HB 56) say that they are not satisfied with efforts by the bill’s sponsors, Alabama State Senator Scott Beason (R) from Gardendale and Alabama State Representative Micky Hammon (R) form Decatur, to modify HB and clarify HB 56 by passage of HB 658. The Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice issued a written statement today following their group’s conference call on how to respond to HB 658. Their group’s position is that they support the repeal of HB 56 and oppose tweaking it with HB 658.
Benard Simelton said, “HB56 cannot be fixed by drafting another mean spirited bill. HB 658 was supposedly designed to mitigate the damage HB 56 has caused, and to get the Justice Department to drop some of their opposition. We still believe this new bill will continue to lead to racial profiling. Any time you give law enforcement additional reasons to search and ask questions of individuals in a vehicle, that will lead to racial profiling. The only way to fix HB 56 is to repeal it and all its brothers, sisters, and cousins lurking out there that look like it.” Benard Simelton is the President of the NAACP Alabama State Conference.
Justin Cox said, “The ‘fixes’ proposed by Alabama’s legislature are inadequate and would actually make the current law even more punitive in several respects.” “Alabama’s legislators should learn from their mistake and repeal this hateful law, which has led to racial profiling and has sent the state back in time when it comes to civil rights.” Justin Cox is the staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.
Zayne Smith, the Coordinator of the One Family, One Alabama campaign of the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice said HB56 “has caused irreparable civil rights violations,” since it went into effect in September 2011. “The law, which is widely considered the most draconian of all legislation inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070, originally would have chilled access to school and criminalized daily interactions with undocumented immigrants. The most recently proposed tweaks to HB56 would go beyond current legislation by targeting people who associate with undocumented immigrants. “
Isabel Rubio, the Executive Director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama added, “HB56 gives license to support rogue behavior. We ask for your help in spreading the word. Tweaking HB56 does not help.”
Zayne Smith wrote, “While we are pleased that the legislature is taking seriously the desperate need to revisit HB56, the only true way to remove the stain on Alabama is through repealing this discriminatory and destructive law.” “You can’t ‘tweak’ your way out of the mess HB56 has caused the state. Meanwhile, other states, including Kansas – home state of the author of HB 56 – have rejected anti-immigrant bills to avoid the type of disastrous impact HB 56 has unleashed on Alabama.”
The Hammon-Beason Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act was passed last year by the Alabama Legislature to help federal authorities enforce federal immigration laws. The bill was an attempt to encourage people who are living in Alabama illegally to self deport themselves somewhere else. The bill was immediately attacked by the Barack H. Obama administration and immigrant rights groups on the grounds that the bill was both too punitive and that Alabama was attempting to usurp federal immigration powers. Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration bill will be argued before the United States Supreme Court later this month. The high court’s ruling on that law will likely affect how the federal court deal with HB 56. Opponents of HB 56 are asking the state to repeal the law. HB 658 is an attempt to tweak the law. There are an estimated eleven million persons illegally residing inside the borders of the United States.