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This Is How You Lose Her
And the Mountains Echoed
Backseat Saints
The Valley of Amazement
Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
How I Write: The Secret Lives of Authors
The Secret Miracle: The Novelist's Handbook
The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life
Julie of the Wolves
Signs & Wonders
From Clueless to Class Act: Manners for the Modern Woman
Kitchen Privileges: A Memoir
Teacher Man
The Bridges of Madison County
Land of a Thousand Hills: My Life in Rwanda
Shadow Tag
Paul Strand: Masters of Photography Series
Fat Chance
Giving up America
The Darwin Awards: Evolution in Action

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Reading in Spanglish

Sep 2011

Parts of Alabama Immigration law in effect

posted in: Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

Image: Fibonacci Blue

I live in Alabama, a state that passed the harshest anti-immigration law recently. It was challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice, various church leaders and civil rights groups. Today, a judge finally made a decision on the challenges and shockingly ordered that most of the law should go into effect after previously enjoining the law (temporarily stopping it so it won’t go into effect). Here’s a summary of my understanding of the ruling, as the local coverage is slightly confusing.

This is what is changing:

*Contracts knowingly entered into with undocumented workers will be nullified

*It is a felony for an undocumented worker to apply for a license plate, driver’s license, or business license

*Law enforcement must determine immigration status during traffic stops

*Drivers must produce their license; if they don’t and the officer can’t verify they have a valid license, they will be arrested. Law enforcement then has 48 hours to determine citizenship through federal agencies; if the person is undocumented “the person shall be considered a flight risk and shall be detained until prosecution or until handed over to federal immigration authorities.”

These parts didn’t go into effect:

*The state cannot stop workers without authorization from seeking employment.

*The state cannot prosecute those who help undocumented workers.

*The state cannot stop businesses from deducting the wages they pay to unauthorized workers.

*The state cannot create a new class of protected workers (the law sought to punish employers who either don’t hire or fire citizens or authorized workers while also employing an undocumented worker).

*The state cannot bar undocumented workers from enrolling in public universities.

A press release from the driver’s license division forwarded to me indicates that a system called AlVerify will be used in verifying whether a person is here legally in processing license tag renewals.

It is my understanding, though local coverage didn’t mention anything, that businesses will now be required to use E-verify for new employees.I actually went to a meeting with a representative of the DOJ (I do volunteer work here for the Hispanic community) and he clarified that E-verify should only be used for new workers – if it is used on existing workers, they should notify the DOJ of discrimination.

Local businesses and farmers are already complaining of not having enough workers to plant spring crops, and probably won’t have the manpower to harvest them in the springtime, either.

I’m a little too shocked and angry about this to editorialize right now, so I’m just giving you the facts. Que barbara!


  1. jennycherie
    Sep 29, 2011

    It sounds to me like the biggest change is that immigration status will be verified during traffic stops. That doesn’t seem remarkably different from checking to make sure no warrants are out for your arrest when you are stopped. The rest are just emphasizing things that are already illegal. Also very similar to the immigration laws in Mexico. Before I went to Mexico as a college student, I was warned on the importance of obeying the laws and keeping my identification on me at all times. Our teacher told us that traveling in a foreign country is a privilege, and we should not assume that being foreigners or students would keep us from being prosecuted if there were a reason. The Mexican people were warm and welcoming, but government is government. They must protect their country, their people, and their interests.

    More recently, in 2000, Mexico enacted the Reglamento de la Ley de Población. This makes illegal immigration into Mexico a felony, punishable with up to two years in jail. Mexicans who aid illegal immigrants are also considered criminals! If you read the actual law, much of it has to do with equality, but there is a section that deals with immigration and documentation of foreigners. You can read the whole law here:, but it is 65 pages long! There is some interesting reading on this issue around page 21-2.

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