New York Times Distorts Facts on Alabama Immigration Law

Tuesday, 06 Sep 2011 09:11 AM

By James Walsh

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While the New York Times masthead reads: “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” the newspaper picks and chooses facts that support its liberal stance.

On Aug. 28, 2011, for instance, an NYT editorial entitled “The Nation’s Cruelest Immigration Law” maligned immigration legislation that was signed into law on June 9, 2011, by the governor of Alabama.

The legislation (HB 56), known as the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, was scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1, 2011.

Instead, lawsuits filed by plaintiffs, including religious groups, civil rights groups, and 16 foreign countries, have resulted in a temporary hold on its enforcement.

The NYT editorial alleges that several clerics considered the Alabama law to be inhumane and thus filed suit. The editorial declares that the law is an attempt to terrorize undocumented immigrants and make criminals of those who live with them or show them any kindness.

In addition to U.S. clerics, Mexico and 15 other foreign countries have filed papers against the Alabama law. U.S. citizens might ask if these same countries would allow the United States to file legal papers to nullify a law passed by one of their states.

A U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) press release dated Aug. 1, 2011, stated that the Alabama law conflicts with federal immigration law and undermines the federal government’s “careful balance” of immigration priorities and objectives. The Obama administration again seeks nullification of a state’s effort to protect its citizens, while the federal government fails to enforce existing U.S. immigration laws.

The NYT editors allege that undocumented immigrants will be criminalized for working, renting, and failing to comply with federal registration laws that they say are “largely obsolete.”

The editors criticize the Alabama law for requiring police to check the papers of people suspected of being in the state illegally, for suspending the licenses of businesses that employ illegal immigrants, and for requiring school officials to determine the immigration status of students and report the same to the state.

Here is what the Alabama law actually does. Section 13 (a) provides that anyone knowingly concealing, harboring, or shielding an illegal alien could be charged with a crime. This wording tracks existing federal immigration law (8 USC section 1324) and is similar to state immigration laws passed by Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Utah.

The existing federal law reads in part that violations include bringing in an alien without inspection; transporting or moving an alien; concealing, harboring, or shielding an alien or attempting to do so; or inducing an alien to enter or reside in the United States. This is the current U.S. immigration law of the land.

In April, a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia sentenced two persons to prison and fined them $2 million for harboring illegal immigrants and inducing the aliens to reside in this country. For more than two decades, similar convictions have occurred in U.S. District Courts throughout the nation.

U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal, including the liberal Ninth Circuit Court, have ruled that section 1324 is Constitutional and have upheld these convictions. The United States Supreme Court also has affirmed the constitutionality of “harboring” and other portions of section 1324. Thus the U.S. law against concealing, harboring, or shielding an illegal alien is far from “obsolete”.

The Obama administration has made a point of promoting E-Verify, an immigrant identification program passed by Congress (8 USC section 1373 [c]) to assist businesses in insuring that they are hiring legal workers. The program is operated and promulgated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Section 15 of the Alabama law, in compliance with the federal law, requires use of the federal E-Verify program in determining whether a person detained by state law enforcement officials is in the country legally. By using the E-Verify program to check on new hires, employers comply with both federal and Alabama law and will not lose their business licenses.

Requiring school officials to determine the immigration status of students and report the findings to the state (Section 28 of the Alabama law) is meant to determine the actual number of legal and illegal students. Currently the federal government has no accurate count of how many illegal aliens are in the United States — only guesstimates.

The actual count of illegal alien children would help determine federal and state money allocations and determine the actual costs of illegal aliens to local and state governments. Nothing in the Alabama law prohibits the education of illegal alien children.

The Alabama law prohibits consideration by law enforcement officials of the race, color, or national origin of a detained person in determining reasonable suspicion or probable cause in questioning the person.

No Alabama official or agency may adopt a policy or practice that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

State immigration control and protection laws ultimately will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The NYT editorial’s rush to judgment on the Alabama law is based on the folly of ideological hubris rather than on an objective reading of the law.

Perhaps the NYT editors pulled a Pelosi and wrote the editorial without reading the law.





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