Alabama Governor Robert Bentley [official website] on Thursday called a special legislative session [proclamation, PDF; press release] to discuss changes to the state's tough immigration law [HB 56, PDF]. The move comes one day after state lawmakers gave final approval to a bill [HB 658 text] that would have amended the law to make it easier to defend in court. Rather than signing or vetoing the bill, Bentley called the special session, saying:
The essence of the law must remain the same, and that is if you live or work in Alabama, you must do so legally. ... We must make sure that final revisions to the immigration law make the law more effective, help promote economic growth, ensure fairness, and provide greater clarity on the application of the law. I believe these additional revisions will help us as we accomplish those goals. A more effective, enforceable bill is a stronger bill.According to Bentley's office, "Bentley believes progress was made in the regular legislative session, and we have an opportunity to further clarify the law."
In March the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit deferred ruling [JURIST report] on the constitutionality of both this law and a similar Georgia law because it wanted to see how a challenge to Arizona's immigration law is ruled on in the US Supreme Court [official website]. In December Bentley announced that he would be working to change the law [JURIST report] but maintained that he had no intention of repealing it and that the essence of the law would still be intact. Bentley's announcement came after a recommendation [JURIST report] by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange that certain provisions probably would not withstand constitutional challenges. Two provisions were temporarily blocked [JURIST report] by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in October after a district court refused to grant [JURIST report] a temporary injunction: Section 28, which requires immigration status checks of public school students, and Section 10, which makes it a misdemeanor for an illegal resident not to have immigration papers.