June 2nd, 2011
Alabama Passes Anti-Immigrant Legislation Authorizing Racial Profiling
On June 2, 2011, Alabama's Republican-controlled state legislature passed House Bill (HB) 56, a controversial anti-immigration bill much tougher than a similar Arizona law passed the year before. One week later, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed the bill into law. Like Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, Alabama's immigration law authorizes police officers, relying on racial profiling, to check the immigration status of anyone detained or arrested who they believe may be in the country illegally. HB 56 also bans undocumented immigrants from enrolling in any public college or university, mandates that parents reveal the immigration status of any child attending public school, and requires school districts to report the number of undocumented students to the state board of education.
Civil rights organizations and religious groups mounted legal and political opposition to HB 56. Many complained the law prohibited acts of charity by criminalizing those who rent property or provide transportation to an undocumented immigrant with prior knowledge of that person's immigration status. Opponents also feared the law would discourage school attendance by undocumented children and create a discriminatory school atmosphere. Indeed, in May 2012, the Department of Justice announced that HB 56 had "diminished access to and quality of education for many of Alabama's Hispanic children" and found that more than 13% of Hispanic children had dropped out of school since the previous fall. Subsequent legal challenges succeeded in invalidating portions of the law.