Democrats in the Alabama House are filibustering in an attempt to stop — or, at the least, delay — passage of a bill that would expand last year’s toughest-in-the-nation immigration law and limit liability in that law for businesses.
This morning, House Democrats filibustered the special order calendar that called up the immigration reform bill, which is known as House Bill 658 or HB658. The calendar passed just before lunch. Democrats are now attempting to delay a procedural vote known as the budget isolation resolution, or BIR, that comes before the vote on HB658.
Rep. Micky Hammon (R-Decatur) was the first Republican to take the House floor to defend HB658. He is sponsoring that bill, and he sponsored last year’s HB56, the original anti-immigrant law.
“We have put together some clarifications and simplifications, a few language changes in this law,” Hammon said. “We have changed some language that deals with some of the judge’s rulings. We feel like we can have sections that are stayed released from court so that we can enforce those sections. We feel like law enforcement will understand what they can or cannot do.”
Hammon said HB658 protects law enforcement officers and protects ministers and religious professionals from prosecution for ministering to immigrants.
“I feel like our citizens will like this,” Hammon said. “We’ve taken the approach to make life easier for law-abiding citizens and legal immigrants, yet keep the law strong for lawbreakers.”
UPDATES: A big talking point for Republicans today seems to be that the media, religious leaders and immigrant rights organizations are responsible for many of the immigration bill’s most harmful effects. Republicans have said repeatedly those organizations spread misinformation and encouraged fear about the bill.
A consistent Democratic talking point is that HB658 allows passengers to be profiled if a driver is ticketed.
Rep. Joe Hubbard (D-Montgomery) is arguing that the HB658 will allowM a politically-motivated judge to punish employers even if they use E-Verify and one of their employees is actually unlawfully present (but has presented proper documentation). Hammon responded that HB56 and HB658 allow use of E-Verify “in good faith” as a “safe harbor” against such punishments.
Rep. Yvonne Kennedy made a statement that serves as a good example of another talking point for opponents of the immigration bill:
“You cannot make bad legislation good legislation by just trying to tack on amendments here and there,” Kennedy said. Opponents have argued that the only solution to the problems caused by HB56 is repeal.