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Alabama Anti-Immigration Bill Harshest in the Nation

An anti-immigration bill passed in Alabama may make the state the harshest in the country on immigration. The bill, H.B. 56, was passed by large margins in the Alabama Senate and House of Representatives last Thursday. Governor Robert Bentley (R) is expected to sign the bill into law today. Similar to Arizona's SB 1070, the bill mandates that police investigate and detain anyone believed to be undocumented.

The bill goes beyond Arizona's anti-immigration law by additionally attacking education rights. The bill requires parents and students in primary and secondary schools to prove their immigration status to the schools with affidavits. Public schools in Alabama are required to publish figures on the numbers of immigrants who are enrolled in school, as well as any additional costs to the school due to the education of undocumented immigrant children. The law also bars undocumented immigrants from enrolling in any public college after high school.

Criminalizing nearly every aspect of their lives, the bill also makes it a crime to rent housing to undocumented immigrants and bars businesses from receiving tax deductions on any wages they receive. The chief sponsor of the bill, Republican Representative Micky Hammon argued, "This is a jobs-creation bill for Americans."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Southern Poverty Law Center, along with other civil and immigrant rights groups are planning to challenge the bill if it becomes law. Cecilia Wang, director ACLU immigrant's rights project, calls the bill "outrageous and blatantly unconstitutional." "The bill invites discrimination into every aspect of the lives of people in Alabama," she said. "We will take action if the governor signs it."

Media Resources: The Crimson White 6/8/11; Colorlines 6/7/11; New York Times 6/3/11