Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley wants changes made to at least two sections of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law — including the so-called “scarlet letter” provision — and he has authorized the Alabama Legislature to address those changes in a special session that will also focus on redistricting legislation, financial tweaks other measures.
On Wednesday, the Alabama Legislature gave final passage to a bill by Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale) that made some minor reforms to the anti-immigrant law, which is known colloquially as HB56. But Bentley, in a press release from his office, said he wants further changes to the law.
Bentley asked the Legislature to amend the immigration law to ensure that children are not “interrogated” about their immigration status by school administrators. That requirement appears in a section of HB56 which is currently blocked by federal courts. Bentley also is asking the legislature to block a requirement that the Alabama Department of Homeland Security publish the names of unlawful immigrants involved in the state court system. Opponents of the law refer to that requirement as the “scarlet letter” provision.
“Such a list could be counterproductive and take away from the focus of the original law,” reads a press release from Bentley’s office. “The purpose of this particular section of the law is to gather data and statistics, not names.”
The revisions Beason’s bill made to HB56 were far from the complex rewrite of the bill proposed by Rep. Micky Hammon (R-Decatur) and passed by the House. Beason was displeased with that bill and substituted his own less substantial rewrite on Wednesday, the last day of the session.
His bill was eventually agreed to by both houses.
“The essence of the law must remain the same, and that is if you live or work in Alabama, you must do so legally,” Bentley said in a press release. “We must make sure that final revisions to the immigration law make the law more effective, help promote economic growth, ensure fairness, and provide greater clarity on the application of the law. I believe these additional revisions will help us as we accomplish those goals. A more effective, enforceable bill is a stronger bill.”
Bentley also called for legislators to address the appropriation of tobacco case funds, redistricting after the 2010 census, correct an issue in the way the state counts its bonds against its debt limit, and for the disposition of use tax funds.
The special session began Wednesday.