The law that some call “Juan Crow” is here to stay, if Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard has anything to say about it.
Hubbard (R-Auburn) spoke to a Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday, and said the Legislature is “absolutely not” open to repealing Alabama’s controversial immigration law, known as HB56. But, according to a report in the Mobile Press Register, Hubbard is open to “tweaks”—meaning “anything we find that is onerous to business, that takes time and money, that doesn’t serve a purpose.”
The president of the Mobile Chamber was concerned about the effects HB56 could have on business recruitment and the state’s reputation as a business-friendly state, and pledged to work with Hubbard to change the law.
In recent weeks, several other Republicans have expressed a willingness to modify HB56. Speaking to a Birmingham Business Alliance luncheon on Nov. 7, the Associated Press reported that Gov. Robert Bentley called the law complicated and stated, emphatically, “I do believe we need to simplify this bill.” Bentley signed the bill into law and has been an advocate for it in the press.
Sen. Gerald Dial, a Republican from Lineville, said, in comments to Centre, Ala.’s The Post on Nov. 16, that he got the immigration bill with just hours left in the legislative session and voted for it so as not to appear weak on immigration. He said he wants to change the law so it avoids punishing good Samaritans.”We made a mistake,” Dial said.
Some claim that since parts of the immigration law went into effect in September, it has already had a negative effect on business recruiting in Alabama. David Bronner, the head of the state’s public pension fund, recently said that the Golden Dragon Precise Copper Tube Group, which planned to build a $100 million facility in Thomasville, Ala., is now looking at other locations due in part to HB56. Republicans who supported passage of the law said a lawsuit could be the reason the factory may be considering a move. And a recent high-profile police incident related to HB56 — the arrest of a German Mercedes manager in Tuscaloosa for not having his driver’s license on Nov. 18 — resulted in a St. Louis, Mo. newspaper telling Mercedes, “Our state has many advantages over Alabama. We are the Show-Me State, not the ‘Show me your papers’ state.”
(On Wednesday, a Japanese Honda worker was allegedly ticketed for an HB56-related charge in Talladega. But that story raises several important questions, such as why the driver was ticketed for an alleged HB56 charge when the law requires arrest?)
State Sen. Billy Beasley, a Clanton Democrat, prefiled a bill, SB41, for the 2012 Alabama legislative session that would repeal HB56, but it’s not likely to pass in the Republican-dominated legislature that green-lighted HB56 in the first place.