Alabama’s immigration enforcement law has come under intense attacks by amnesty and civil rights groups that fail to understand the true intent of the legislation. It isn’t so much that the states are passing their own immigration enforcement laws as much as it is that they’re passing bills that allow them to enforce laws already on the books. To that end, we have compiled a short list of Fiction versus Fact.
FICTION: This law makes it a crime for illegal aliens not to carry their “papers” at all times.
FACT: This has been required by federal law since 1940 for ALL immigrants – both legal and illegal. Alabama law simply enforces federal law.
FICTION: The Alabama law allows law enforcement to check the immigration status of any person they stop, detain, or arrest who they reasonably suspect is in the country unlawfully.
FACT: Again, federal law already allows law enforcement officers to determine the immigration status of those they reasonably suspect to be in the country illegally while stopping, detaining or arresting someone for another infraction. The Alabama law now merely expands on federal law to require officers to check immigration status if suspicion exists.
FICTION: Requires people to prove their immigration status in order obtain an Alabama driver’s license.
FACT: Applicants for Alabama driver’s licenses were already required to prove immigration status prior to the passage of HB 56. Also, the federal REAL ID law requires all states to implement a system to check immigration status of identification applicants.
FICTION: Law enforcement will now arrest and verify the immigration status of those driving without a license.
FACT: Once again, law enforcement is already permitted to do this under current federal law. Alabama will now require enforcement.
FICTION: Alabama will require law enforcement to check the status of arrested and incarcerated individuals.
FACT: Getting the picture? Yes, federal law already allows law enforcement to check the status of arrested and incarcerated people – and even encourages it with the expansion of programs like Secure Communities.
FICTION: Alabama will transfer arrested or convicted illegal to immigration authorities.
FACT: Surprise! Local and state law enforcement agencies across the country can already cooperate with federal authorities to transfer illegal aliens into immigration custody. Alabama has simply chosen to consistently contact federal immigration authorities to alert them when illegal aliens are in custody – giving the federal government the choice to pursue removal proceedings.
FICTION: Public elementary and secondary schools will be forced to verify the immigration status of students and potentially their parents.
FACT: This is one provision that represents a new authority for Alabama but the collection of immigration status is for data and cost analysis purposes only. There is no “verifying” of status and illegal status does not preclude illegal alien students from attending Alabama – or any other U.S. – public school.
In reality, like many Americans, Alabamians are seeking jobs, improved education, and the ability for personal advancement. And, they believe that the enforcement of laws is integral to American society. Enforcing immigration laws that already exist will provide Alabamians improved access to jobs, a better picture of the costs their state faces from illegal immigration and enhanced public safety.