Next month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Arizona v. United States, the case challenging Arizona’s SB 1070, the “attrition through enforcement” law that seeks to drive undocumented immigrants from the state.
Many people will pay attention, but few will do so more closely than those of us in Alabama. Here, SB 1070’s ideas metastasized into HB 56— a law that goes even further than Arizona’s in making the state simply inhospitable for undocumented immigrants. The law acutely harms the state’s most vulnerable people, its economy, and its reputation. Alabama’s experience exposes the reality of the anti-immigrant laws now at issue in Arizona and elsewhere: they largely fail to deliver on their promises and instead render needless damage and suffering.
I’m a part of a team at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which along with our co-counsel and allies, is challenging HB 56’s constitutionality. There is a lot for us to challenge. Alabama’s law reaches both more broadly and more deeply than its counterparts from other states. Like SB 1070, HB 56 criminalizes the failure to carry alien registration papers and authorizes law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of any individuals stopped. However, it also includes provisions that:
- Prohibit and criminalize “business transactions” between undocumented immigrants and state agencies;
- Instruct courts to regard any contract to which an undocumented person is a party as unenforceable;
- Denies bail to detained undocumented immigrants; and
- Requires schools to inquire into the immigration status of every newly enrolled student and his or her parents.