The Alabama Senate and House of Representatives [official websites] on Thursday approved a bill [HB 56 text; materials] expanding restrictions on undocumented immigrants. The House voted 67-29 and the Senate voted 25-7 to pass the bill that includes measures comparable to those passed in Arizona [JURIST report] last year. The bill permits police officers to detain a person stopped for a traffic violation if the officer has "reasonable suspicion" the person is in the country illegally. The officer must then try to determine the individual's identity by checking other records if the motorist is unable to provide documentation. The bill also requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify system [official website] to determine whether potential employees are legal residents. Businesses cited multiple times for hiring undocumented workers could lose their business licenses. Furthermore, undocumented immigrants are prohibited from applying for a job, and anyone transporting or harboring undocumented immigrants will be punished by a fine or jail time. The bill indicates that unlawful immigration increases education costs, crime, and economic hardship, and that the bill protects the public interest of Alabama citizens:
The State of Alabama further finds that certain practices currently allowed in this state impede and obstruct the enforcement of federal immigration law, undermine the security of our borders, and impermissibly restrict the privileges and immunities of the citizens of Alabama. Therefore, the people of the State of Alabama declare that it is a compelling public interest to discourage illegal immigration by requiring all agencies within this state to fully cooperate with federal immigration authorities in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. The State of Alabama also finds that other measures are necessary to ensure the integrity of various governmental programs and services.The bill will now proceed to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley [official website] for signing.
Earlier this week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) [official websites] and a coalition of other civil rights groups filed a class action [JURIST report] lawsuit challenging a similar Georgia immigration law. Last month, the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] upheld [JURIST report] in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] an Arizona employment law that imposes penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants is not preempted by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) [text]. The ruling opens the door for states to enact similar restraints on immigration. Several states have already enacted or proposed [JURIST reports] Arizona-style immigration laws. In March, the Oklahoma State Senate [official website] approved [JURIST report] a bill that would give police officers the authority to question the citizenship status of any person lawfully stopped for a traffic violation and arrest them without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe the person is in the country illegally. Also in March, Utah Governor Gary Herbert [official website] signed an immigration law requiring police to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for an alleged felony or serious misdemeanor, but a federal judge blocked [JURIST reports] it less than 24 hours after it took effect. In February, the Indiana Senate [official website] approved a bill [JURIST report] requiring suspected illegal immigrants to provide proof of their legal status and calls for all public meetings, websites, and documents to be in English only.