Alabama Passes the Most Advanced State Immigration Law in U.S. History

Press Releases

June 3, 2011

On Thursday, June 2, 2011, the Alabama Legislature passed what may be the most advanced omnibus state immigration enforcement legislation in U.S. history. House Bill 56, the “Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act” of 2011, provides an important and innovative array of state level solutions to the problems created by uncontrolled and unlawful immigration in areas as diverse as employment, voting, education, contracts, and law enforcement.

HB 56 was introduced on March 1, 2011 by Representative Micky Hammon (Decatur) in the Alabama House of Representatives. After passing the House on April 5 by an overwhelming vote of 73 to 28, HB 56 was sent to the Senate for approval. In the Senate, Senator Scott Beason (Gardendale) offered a substitute bill which passed by a similar margin of 23 to 11 on May 5. The ATCPA was approved in conference committee by a strong final vote of 25 to 7. HB 56 was sent to Governor Robert Bentley just before midnight on June 2. The Governor is expected to sign HB 56 into law.

The ATCPA includes provisions which require E-Verify for all employers (Sections 9 & 15), end the deductibility of compensation paid to unauthorized aliens workers as a business tax expense (Section 16), and permit law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of a person lawfully stopped for a violation of state or local law, when the officer has reasonable suspicion the person is unlawfully present in the U.S. HB 56 also prohibits sanctuary practices by state and local officials (Sections 5 & 6) and prohibits concealing, harboring, and transporting illegal aliens which is consistent with federal law 8 U.S.C. 1324 (Section 13). Both citizens and permanent legal immigrants will gain protections against discriminatory firing by employers who continue to employ unauthorized aliens.

“If the trend of the past five years persists, the Alabama model will be a touchstone for other states in the 2012 legislative sessions, and also serve as a influential guide for nationwide reform by the Congress,” said Trista Chaney, an IRLI staff attorney who has worked extensively with cooperative enforcement concepts appearing in many omnibus state bills throughout the United States. “This is why they call the states laboratories of citizen democracy,” Chaney added.

The final version of HB 56 shows the value of ongoing consultations between the legislative sponsors, Alabama citizen activists, and national immigration reform experts, in designing the ATCPA’s sustainable and fair enforcement procedures. Attorneys associated with the Immigration Reform Law Institute, in particular constitutional law expert Kris Kobach, have helped move new ideas and analysis from state to state. “The successful legislative drafting in HB 56 showcases the benefits to the public of an unwavering commitment to the rule of law by elected representatives, backed up by meticulous attention to the requirements of federalism in immigration enforcement, as recently endorsed by our U.S. Supreme Court,” said IRLI General Counsel Mike Hethmon.”

A summary of the ATCPA, as well as the complete text of the decision, is available on this website.

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