Proposed changes to the Alabama immigration introduced Thursday in the Alabama House would clarify some sections of the controversial law and expand others, including an expansion of the “reasonable suspicion” traffic stop provision to include the passengers of a vehicle, not just the driver. The changes would also lessen liability for some businesses.
The reform legislation, known as HB658, makes extensive changes to 23 sections of the Alabama anti-immigrant law. The reform legislation is sponsored Rep. Micky Hammon (R-Decatur), who was also the House sponsor of the original law when it passed the Alabama legislature in 2011.
“The federal government has failed to enforce its laws against illegal immigration, so Alabama and several other states have taken action to crack down on this problem,” Hammon said in a press release. “The law we passed last year was strong, but as with most laws, it can be made better. We’ve worked for the last several months to see how we could make our law better, and I’m pleased with what we were able to produce. It keeps and strengthens penalties to ensure those living and working in Alabama are here legally.”
Under HB56, local school systems were required to request citizenship information from students and produce an annual report to the legislature regarding the cost of educating unlawfully-present children or the children of unlawfully-present aliens, but HB658 would delegate that responsibility to the state schools superintendent. If subcontractors violated the current law’s E-Verify requirements, contractors would not be liable under the reform legislation unless they had actual knowledge of that violation.
The current law allows police, during a traffic stop, detainment or arrest, to attempt to determine a person’s citizenship status if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that a person is in the country illegally. The new bill, HB658, would require those checks to be made after a traffic citation is issued or after an arrest, and for “reasonable suspicion” to extend beyond the driver, to the other passengers in the vehicle.
A complete list of proposed changes is below.
Alabama House Speaker Rep. Mike Hubbard said in a press release that HB56 will not be repealed.
“That’s not going to happen,” Hubbard stated. “What we have is a bill that sharpens tools for law enforcement to more effectively crack down on lawbreakers, offers clarity to state and local agencies in their everyday dealings with the law, and ensures law-abiding residents and businesses aren’t subjected to unnecessary red tape.”
There is support for HB658 among Alabama Senate Republicans as well. Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and the Senate sponsor of HB56, Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale), also offered their support today in the form of press releases.
Southern Poverty Law Center Legal Director Mary Bauer was not impressed with the proposed reforms—her organization has been fighting the law in court.
“The Republican leadership’s bill is a half-hearted response to the economic and humanitarian crisis that is gripping our State as a result of HB56,” Bauer said in a press release. “It will do little to alleviate the problems that have plagued Alabama farmers and small businesses since the original law was passed. And it will do little to stop the suffering of the Alabama children and families that HB56 has so cruelly targeted.
“Other states, including Mississippi, have learned from the Alabama’s mistakes in passing HB56 and have refused to go down the same disastrous road. We’re disappointed that our legislative leaders have learned so little from their own mistakes.”
House Bill 658
A fact sheet on the reforms provided by House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s office:
FACT SHEET Illegal Immigration Law Revisions