By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday the groups that are opposing Alabama’s strictest in the nation anti-illegal immigration law held a joint press conference to announce that their fight would continue and their campaign against the state of Alabama would escalate
Wade Henderson who is the President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said, “Our message to the (Alabama) legislature is simple: if we can’t appeal to your humanity then we will appeal to your pocketbooks. Alabama is not a state that is worthy of outside business contributions or financial support. We will continue to resist the changes in the immigration law that have already been adopted and we will continue to engage actively building our campaign to encourage the legislature to repeal this odious law.”
Mary Bauer, the Legal Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), said, “Sadly, the Republican legislative leadership proved powerless against the most extreme members of the legislature, who hijacked the process and passed an even more extreme law. We will continue our fight against these unconstitutional laws – both the hateful law that was passed last year and at least one provision of this year’s law.”
The National Vice President of the United Auto Workers, Cindy Estrada said, “We filed a complaint under NAFTA. We filed a complaint under the ILO. Now, we’re reaching out to key businesses to stand up and demand repeal of this hateful, destructive law. Rest assured, we’re going to keep the pressure up until justice is served and HB 658 is repealed once and for all.”
The group announced plans to raise banners in 22 states and Puerto Rico at auto dealerships urging consumers not to buy cars made in Alabama as part of a campaign targeting companies that do business in the state.
There are an estimated 12 million people living in the United States without legal residency in this country. The Beason-Hammon Alabama Citizen and Taxpayer Protection Act (HB56) was passed in the 2011 legislative session in an attempt to use Alabama state law to assist federal law enforcement by identifying people who were in the state illegally and employers who were illegally hiring undocumented workers.
Only the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) is authorized to actually deport illegal aliens. HB56 sponsors, Senator Scott Beason (R) from Gardendale and Micky Hammon (R) from Decatur believed that if the state puts pressure on undocumented workers they will eventually self deport. The Obama Justice Department claims that since federal law is preeminent to state law, the state of Alabama can not use state law to punish people who are violating federal laws. The federal government has sued the state of Alabama to prevent HB56 from being enforced. Additionally, the state has been sued by the ACLU, the SPLC, several Churches in Alabama, pro-undocumented persons groups, and several individuals. The case against HB56 is currently in the Federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals awaiting a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on the legality of the Arizona anti-illegal immigration bill which is similar to Alabama’s legislation.
In the 2012 legislative session, Sen. Beason and Rep. Hammon passed new legislation (HB658) which clarified and strengthened the existing statute. Gov. Robert Bentley, after some initial reluctance, signed the bill into law.