Alabama governor working to revise state immigration law

[JURIST] Alabama Governor Robert Bentley [official website] announced [press release] Friday that he would work with House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh [official profiles] to make Alabama's new immigration law [HB 56 text] more effective. Bentley assured that the group had no plans to repeal the law, even with pending challenges [JURIST report] from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website]. According to Bailey, "the essence of the law will not change, but state leaders pledged the revisions to the law will be offered for consideration early in the next Legislative Session so that the law works, it can be enforced and it reflects the hospitable nature of Alabamians." He recognized that changes need to be made so that the law is fair and just, but the governor stood behind his campaign for an effective illegal immigration law. A bill is being developed for consideration at the start of Alabama's next legislative session. The bill's purpose is to clarify, simplify, ensure that all individuals working in Alabama are doing so legally and enable law enforcement to effectively enforce the law.

Last week Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange [official website] suggested repealing specific provisions [JURIST report] of the state's controversial immigration law which criminalize the failure of illegal immigrants to carry registration documents and require public schools to collect information regarding the immigration status of their students. Both these provisions were temporarily blocked [JURIST report] in an October ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website]. The law has faced numerous challenges since taking effect in September. The DOJ challenged the law resulting in a ruling [opinion text] at the end of September that allowed the state to enforce a provision that makes it a felony for an illegal alien to conduct business with the state, among other provisions. The DOJ argued that Alabama's immigration law was preempted by federal laws regulating immigration in the US because of the Supremacy Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder]. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a separate brief also asking the court to overturn the new law. The ACLU's brief argued that the laws are designed to make life in Alabama so difficult for illegal aliens that they will be forced to leave the state [JURIST op-ed]. Like the DOJ, the ACLU argued that Alabama's law is a direct attempt to regulate immigration, which is an area that the states have no legitimate interest in regulating and is left only to the federal government to legislate. Alabama's immigration law is only one of the immigration measures [JURIST news archive] currently being challenged by the DOJ, ACLU and others.

 

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