Alabama's 'outrageous' immigration bill

The tough new bill includes strict provisions that go even farther than the controversial Arizona law that sparked national debate last year

A young demonstrator marches during an immigration reform protest on May 1: Alabama is close to passing an immigration law that's tougher than Arizona's.
(Image credit: Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

Alabama's legislature has passed a hard-hitting bill that would make it a state crime to be an undocumented immigrant. Inspired by Arizona's controversial law, the Alabama bill would make cops ask for proof of legal residence from anyone they think might be in the U.S. illegally, with the person jailed until their status is verified. It would also penalize anyone who hires, shelters, rents to, or gives a ride to illegal immigrants, and bars illegal immigrants from public universities. If Gov. Robert Bentley (R) signs the bill, as expected, will Alabama replace Arizona as the center of the nation's immigration debate?

Yes. This is a terrible, terrible bill: Yes, Alabama's bill "goes beyond the law passed in Arizona," but that's nothing to brag about, says The Huntsville Times in an editorial. The ACLU is right to call the law "outrageous and blatantly unconstitutional," but that's just the tip of the iceberg. It also "tramps all over civil liberties, is unlikely to achieve one of its major goals," job creation, and is sure to "overwhelm Alabama jails."

"A law, mostly for Hispanics"

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Actually, we should applaud Alabama: With its promising new bill, "Alabama has suddenly become the leader in comprehensive immigration reform, passing up Arizona," says Phyllis Schlafly at Investor's Business Daily. Alabama improves on Arizona's law by forcing public schools to report students' immigration status, and making it even harder for illegal immigrants to work. Kudos!

"Alabama's law on immigrants tops Arizona's"

It's time for Congress to step up: America's immigration system got its last big overhaul in 1952, says Dagmar Butte at The Oregonian. And the periodic "fixes" since have just created a "Frankenstein [that] works for no one." Congress needs to quit squabbling, and align our immigration laws with our labor needs. Until it does, Alabama and Arizona's "simplistic attempts" to enact misguided laws of their own will just "punish people who seek to fill those needs."

"Enforcing a broken system is doomed to failure"

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