A project of the Center for Community Change

Repealing HB56 is Alabama Lawmaker’s Only Option

Gov. Bentley Must Go Further Than Objecting to Parts of the Bill

Alabama state lawmakers must stop making futile attempts to revise their anti-immigrant law, HB56, and their only recourse is to repeal it, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement said today.

“The tinkering, tweaking and toying with HB56 does not address its underlying flaws of totally violating the civil rights of undocumented immigrants in Alabama,” said Rich Stolz, Interim Director of FIRM, a network of community-based immigrant advocacy organizations in 30 states. “Gov. Robert Bentley today sent the bill back for reconsideration. He correctly objected to parts of it, but Bentley must show his constituents that he will stand up for Alabama’s reputation and economy and call on the bill’s total repeal.”

Yesterday, the Republican controlled Senate passed a so called ‘tweak bill’ that made the law even harsher.  The bill includes a sweetheart deal for large businesses in the state concerned about complying with employee verification requirements, and they changed language to try to prevent the detention of more foreign business executives. Bentley objected to the part of the bill that changed the way public schools collect information from students, saying he did not want kids asked about their parents’ legal status. He also objected to the provision requiring the Department of Homeland Security to post a quarterly list of the names of any undocumented immigrant who appears in court for a violation of state law, regardless of whether they were convicted.

Bentley did not go far enough in his objections, and his actions today are small consolation to farmers desperate to find workers or businesses and residents concerned about the impact HB56 has had on the state’s reputation.  These changes, if anything, only exacerbate worries over racial profiling, undermine trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities, encourage vigilante harassment and send a message that immigrants, or anyone that looks like one, is unwelcome in Alabama.

“States like Alabama and Arizona have shown a complete unwillingness to enact fair immigration laws and as the Supreme Court weighs its decision on Arizona’s SB1070, the high court must be mindful of how much damage state lawmakers can do when allowed to set policies that clearly violate the civil rights of citizens,” Stolz added.

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