Right before the Easter weekend, the author of Alabama’s tough immigration enforcement law proposed an 83-page bill that would make significant, substantive revisions to the State’s immigration enforcement law.
The bill, H.B. 658, would weaken the State’s current immigration law (H.B. 56) in several ways. Among the most important changes, H.B. 658 would significantly limit the scope of H.B. 56’s immigration status check provision. Currently, H.B. 56 requires a law enforcement officer during a lawful stop, detention, or arrest to conduct an immigration status check of individuals if the officer reasonably suspects the individual is illegally in the United States. (See H.B. 658, p.37; Ala. Code § 31-13-12) H.B. 658, however, limits the requirement to conduct immigration status checks to only situations where an individual is arrested or issued a traffic ticket. It expressly allows for immigration status checks of the passengers in a car, if the driver has been arrested or issued a traffic ticket. (H.B. 658, p.37)
H.B. 658 would also weaken the existing penalties under Alabama law for private employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens. Current law – as created by H.B. 56 – has a safe harbor provision which provides that employers will not be deemed to have knowingly hired illegal aliens if they use E-Verify. But if a court finds an employer has knowingly hired illegal aliens, the employer is subject to a 10-day suspension of his business license and three years of probation. For a second violation, the employer is subject to the revocation of his business license with respect to the specific offending location. Upon a subsequent violation, the employer is subject to the revocation of his business licenses throughout the state. (See Ala. Code § 31-13-15)
H.B. 658 maintains the safe harbor for employers, but only imposes penalties for multiple violations if they occur within a five-year period. (H.B. 658, p.46-54) Thus, H.B. 658 provides that for a first violation an employer is subject to a 60-day suspension of his business license and three years of probation. For a second violation within five years of the first, an employer is subject to a 120-day suspension and five years of probation. For a third violation within five years of the second, the employer is subject to permanent suspension (although the business license can be reinstated) and seven years of probation. In addition, H.B. 658 contains broad language that allows a court not to impose penalties on employers if it decides doing so is not in the public interest.
Another important change H.B. 658 would make to H.B. 56 is to eliminate the requirement that school districts collect data on their students’ immigration status and send it to the State Board of Education for inclusion in an annual report. (H.B. 658, p. 67-70) H.B. 658 does include a requirement that the State Department of Education compile a report on the annual fiscal impact of providing free education to the children of illegal aliens. (H.B. 658 p. 66-67) That provision expressly allows the state to contract with scholars, economists, or public research institutions to complete the report, but without the data collection requirement, it is unclear whether schools will have the data needed to make an accurate analysis.
Top Alabama officials are already voicing their support for the revisions, but also seem aware that true immigration reformers will eye the bill with skepticism. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley denied that the proposal weakens Alabama’s immigration law. “The essence of the bill will not change: Anyone living and working in Alabama must be here legally.” (Fox News, Apr. 6, 2012) Spokesman for House Speaker Mike Hubbard similarly stated: “No part is being weakened.” (Wall Street Journal, Apr. 5, 2012) The changes, he said, are aimed at clarifying aspects of the law and “making it stronger by making it more enforceable.” (Id.)
Indeed, Alabama lawmakers are pushing forward with the revisions to H.B. 56 despite the fact that many of its provisions will soon be ruled on by the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Arizona’s SB 1070 — numerous provisions of which are identical to those in H.B. 56 — at the end of April. The Court is then expected to rule on SB 1070 by early summer.
Lawmakers are also pushing forward with the revisions despite the fact that many Alabamians support the State’s tough immigration enforcement law and tout its benefits. A poll recently conducted by FAIR revealed 75 percent of Alabama voters support the law. (See FAIR poll, Mar. 19, 2012)
You know I read this article and so many more where it appears that doing the right thing is hard, in fact so hard many buckle under the pressure. While states have to take steps the preserve our nation’s sovereignty because the Federal government is unwilling to do so, on has to wonder what the problem is? This country has borders and we are not an open port for anybody who decides they want to come here whether we like it or not. The President of this nation is a fool, who finds it patriotic to sue states, law enforcement and condemn anybody demanding a secure border. I am writing a book titled “ONE” It is the story of the last man on earth after a nuclear war that was made possible by the weakness of our president and his unwillingness to secure our borders.
Alabama seeks to soften their impressively strong stance on illegal immigration even though polls show 75% of the people of the state of Alabama support the strong stance on illegal immigration. Why is it so hard for people to do the right thing and stand by it? What do they fear that could make one step away from something so legal and right?
I believe it is the DOJ led by Obama’s lap dog Eric (My People) Holder. While Obama dances around and looks like the court jester in his inept leadership, Holder is suing every American he can if they are doing their duty and standing tall against illegal immigration. Obama should have kicked Holder to the curb long ago but Obama is a coward and weak so he lets Americans suffer at the hands of illegal thugs.