On Wednesday, Alabama lawmakers passed a new bill to mitigate the criticized portions of Alabama's controversial immigration law, though critics say the new law would only make things worse. The criticism ran so high that seven protesters were arrested outside the Alabama state House and Senate including the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center is among the plaintiffs who have filed a federal lawsuit against the current immigration law
The new immigration bill, HB 658 was approved on Wednesday by both the state House and the Senate. It is now waiting for the signature of the Governor to become law.
Jeremy King, a spokesman for Gov. Robert Bentley told the media, “We will conduct a final review of the legislation as passed and make a final decision from there … Governor Bentley's goal is to emerge with an immigration bill that is simplified, clarified, more effective, and more enforceable.”
Senator Dick Brewbaker informed CNN that the new bill does not address those parts of the law that are at issue before the federal courts. He added that the new bill addresses unintended outcomes of the immigration law and clarifies the types of documents that are sufficient for formal identification.
However, critics remain suspicious. The Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice issued a statement saying, “The new bill preserves most of the law while adding several positions that make it even more dangerous.”
The representatives of the ACLU said that the new bill requires the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to post online the names of illegal immigrants available from court records. The new law also allows the law enforcement to detain a person up to 48 hours while determining his/her immigration status.
Olivia Turner, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama said that “Alabama took a step backward in approving this ill-conceived measure … Lawmakers were deaf to the concerns of many residents, business owners and police who realize this law is a bad idea. Alabama will continue to pay a severe price for a law that is almost impossible to enforce properly and blatantly unconstitutional.”
A federal appeals court has blocked some components of the current law including a draconian measure that required Alabama officials to check the immigration status of children in public schools.
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