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The ACIJ says new immigration bill will create new problems for state

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ) issued a press release late on Wednesday expressing their dissatisfaction with the latest attempt to rewrite Alabama’s anti-illegal immigration law, HB56.  State Senator Scott Beason (R) from Gardendale introduced the new anti-illegal immigration bill Wednesday to replace the House Bill, HB658.  Sen. Beason sponsored HB56 in the Alabama Senate last year.

Zayne Smith, the coordinator of the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice said, “State legislators opted to use our limited time and resources to experiment with immigration legislation in a state with an immigrant population of only 3.4%.  Meanwhile, Alabama schools continue to languish at the bottom of the national rankings for student achievement, and the average household income is one of the lowest in the nation.”

The ACIJ press release said, “With only hours left in the Alabama legislative session, backroom deals produce a new sweeping immigration bill that will create new problems for the state. Tonight, Alabama lawmakers refused to repeal the disastrous HB 56 despite the millions of dollars this failed experiment continues to cost the state every day.  Incredibly, with only one working day left and a long night ahead of them, Senator Scott Beason unveiled an entirely new 63 page bill which he intends to substitute tomorrow for House Bill 658, an HB 56 “tweak bill” that has passed the House.  Senator Beason’s bill, the result of back-door dealing, will undo the modest progress HB 658 would make toward alleviating some of the worst aspects of HB 56.”

The ACIJ said that, “The Beason substitute to HB658 contains serious flaws.”  The ACIJ complains that the new bill still requires schools to record the number of illegal alien children enrolled in the school.   The ACIJ also objects to law enforcement having to spend money jailing illegal aliens.  The ACIJ wants amnesty for illegal aliens who are victims of crime and who assist law enforcement in prosecuting criminals.  The ACIJ also wants to exempt religious leaders from prosecution under the law.  The ACIJ objects to the provision that prevents landlords from renting to illegal aliens.  They argue that it will lead to homeless illegal aliens in Alabama.  They also object to a requirement that DHS “publish on its website the names and locations of undocumented immigrants who have appeared in state courts.”

Director Zayne Smith said, “As Alabamians, we deserve and demand that our legislators tackle the real issues that most impact our lives on a daily basis.  Rather than institute draconian policies that scapegoat immigrant families, the legislature should put in place policies that ensure all workers earn a living wage. Instead of creating yet another unfunded mandate for local law enforcement, legislators should give local police officers the freedom to work with their communities on public safety priorities.  Showboating politicians who choose to waste their time and our tax money by turning back the clock on civil rights and targeting immigrant families are not interested in improving the lives of the average Alabamian.”

A Democrat attempt to repeal HB56 was defeat in the Alabama Senate Wednesday by a margin of 14 to 20.  The bill to repeal HB56 was sponsored by Sen. Billy Beasley (D) from Clayton.  Sen. Beasley told ‘The Birmingham News that HB56 has harmed children, families, farmers, and businesses.  “I think it is unjust law. I think it is painful law on many families in Alabama as well as on the business interests in the state of Alabama,” Beasley said.

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In 2011, the Alabama Legislature passed HB56, the Hammon-Beason Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act.  Since then no state has seen unemployment drop more than it has dropped in Alabama.  Opponents (including the Barack Obama Administration) have sued the state of Alabama saying that the state has no authority to criminalize illegal immigration, because federal law preempts state law.  The fate of Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration bill hinges on a pending opinion by the United States Supreme Court.  HB56 is similar to that law and its case now in the Federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will likely be affected by the Supreme Court ruling in the Arizona case.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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