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Undeterred by lawsuits in other states, Alabama moves ahead with Arizona-style immigration law

Large majorities of the Alabama legislature approved a new immigration-enforcement law Thursday. The law is specifically modeled after Arizona’s notorious SB1070, with what the House majority leader called an “Alabama twist.” According to the Associated Press, the bill allows police officers to detain anyone they stop for a traffic violation that they have a “reasonable suspicion” is an undocumented immigrant. People detained without proof of legal residence would be subject to a $100 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

The bill, House Bill 56, (PDF) also mandates that employers use the E-Verify online system before hiring any worker, or risk losing their business license. It also criminalizes knowingly sheltering or transporting undocumented immigrants, punishable by up to a year in prison.

The bill now goes to the office of Gov. Robert Bentley for his approval. Bentley campaigned on immigration enforcement, saying he would “not wait for Washington” on the immigration issue. He has articulated his support for penalizing businesses that hire undocumented workers and his opposition to “sanctuary cities.”

The law was passed the same day that the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center, together with other immigrant rights groups, filed a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s recently passed immigration enforcement law. In a press release, an ACLU attorney called the Georgia law “fundamentally un-American” because it made “certain people ‘untouchables’ that others should be afraid to assist, house or transport.” The lawsuit claims that the Georgia law both preempts federal law and violates unreasonable search-and-seizure, due process, and equal protection rights. Supporters of the Georgia law have cause for hope, however, as the U.S. Supreme Court last week approved another Arizona law that mandated the use of E-Verify.

As the Colorado Independent reported earlier this week, the sponsor of SB1070, Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, is facing a recall election motivated by Pearce’s push for the immigration law’s enactment. The politicization of immigration in Arizona has already resulted in millions of dollars spent in legal fees defending the law, not to mention the blows suffered by the state economy due to boycotts.

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