Alabama Law – Fact vs. Fiction

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.

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    I goggled 11th circuit court , then opinions, then unpublished opinions: USA vs State of Alabama.
    I can’t beleive that illegals arguments are backed up by the use of our USA CONSTITUTION by thee circuit judges. Do illegals outside of our country get the same privilege of our constitution as the American citizen? I really think that we should all declare ourselves illegals, so we don’t have to OBEY the USA LAWS. I beleive that where it is heading. I can not believe as a citizen I must obey ALL state laws and they do not. Why does the federal governement supercede the STATE governement laws? Why do I have to fill out a census and the kids can’t be ask their statis for taxpayer schools???? THIS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THESE JUDGES MAKE ME SICK!!!

    Alabama citizens look up the opinion because u can see who was the plaintiffs are example service employees international union,greater birmingham ministries, boat people sos, united food and commericial worker union local 1657 etc…. TAKE A LOOK

  2. avatar



    ARREST AND DEPORT ALL ILLEGALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. avatar

    If our “GUTLESS” politicians would do their overpaid job, we wouldn’t have the big mess we have today.
    The people are FED-UP with the crooks that are in office. VOTE THEM OUT. When they are out, the free ride and lifetime pay, gotta stop. We’re broke!!

  4. avatar

    I do NOT care how you put it, ILLEGAL means just that!!!
    I am fed-up with paying for free rides with our politicians kissing
    their behinds, and being silent.
    Illegal means: AGAINST THE LAW: What part of the word “ILLEGAL”
    Don’t our lawmakers understand? This is Shameful!!! VOTE ‘EM OUT!!!

  5. avatar

    Just citing Federal law and stating that Alabama will enforce the law would simply have been a resolution with no compunction for Alabama Government or Law Enforcement to act. The Federal Law stipulates what is a violation of the law, but fails in most cases to define a clear set of consequences if the Federal Government and it’s agencies fail or refuse or only selectively enforce the laws.

    • avatar

      That doesn’t include ask kids in school for citizenship papers and that is a BIG EXPENSE on the taxpayer

  6. avatar

    This is a good “comparison”/analysis, but CITING THE FEDERAL LAWS REFERRED TO, would have been better! If all the state is doing is “enforcing FEDERAL LAW”, why didn’t the legislation of HB 56, just SAY THAT, and cite the federal laws the state would enforce? Why make everyone thing Alabama is writing “new” law?