Republican legislators in Alabama are moving to make it easier to enforce and comply with the state’s year-old anti-immigration law, which may be the toughest in the country, according to a report Monday by Stateline.org
Faced with a legal challenge to the Arizona law now before the Supreme Court and a backlash from the state’s business community, the Alabama statute’s architects say that changes are in the works, although they insist the law will continue to discourage illegal immigration.
“Make no mistake; no changes have been suggested that weaken the law,” House Majority Leader Micky Hammon wrote in an email. “Instead, they simply aim to make it even more workable for local governments, more enforceable for state and local police, and less burdensome for law-abiding citizens and businesses.”
Even though much of the law has been on hold, pending the outcome of legal challenges, its effect has been devastating to many communities.
According to Stateline, many immigrants, both illegal and legal, have left the state or gone into hiding, and businesses have lost workers they depended on and customers as well. They also complain the extra time and paperwork it takes to comply with the law is costing them money.
“The intent of the immigration law was never to make it difficult for businesses to comply and burden businesses with unnecessary red tape,” the Business Council of Alabama said in a recent statement. “These changes, while not perfect, are a much-needed step in the right direction and will allow businesses to clearly comply with both federal and state immigration law.”
But talk of reworking the law has some supporters on edge, according to Stateline. They say the statute did what it was designed to do.
“Word gets out very fast,” said Elois Zeanah, president of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women, referring to the quick exodus by many illegal immigrants shortly after the law was passed.
“That was the intent of the law. The reason why the immigration law was passed was to reduce illegal immigration through attrition.”
Zeanah is hoping that upcoming court rulings will uphold the law. She says state lawmakers should hold their ground until then.
“Any move by our Alabama legislature to change this bill before the U.S. Supreme Court or the 11th Circuit court rule is an attempt, in my view, to weaken this bill before our law can be upheld,” she said.
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