Alabama's Tough New Immigration Law Signed

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 10, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Move over Arizona, a new Alabama immigration law has hit the books and it blows yours to smithereens.

Alabama enacted perhaps the country's toughest immigration law on Thursday when Governor Robert Bentley signed HB 56 into law.

Backed by overwhelming legislative support, the new law covers a broad array of topics, many of which have civil rights groups questioning the law's legality and whether it was primarily motivated by bigotry.

Effective as of September 1, the new Alabama immigration law includes the following:

  • Police must ascertain a suspect's immigration status.
  • Police must detain anyone they suspect of being undocumented.
  • Public schools must verify and report the immigration status of students.
  • Businesses may have their licenses revoked for hiring undocumented workers.
  • It is illegal to knowingly transport an illegal immigrant.
  • It is illegal to knowingly rent a dwelling to an illegal immigrant.
  • You cannot knowingly enter into a valid contract with an illegal immigrant.

While the revocation of business licenses was recently upheld by the Supreme Court, the other provisions are challengeable under the Supremacy Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, and federal discrimination law.

In particular, the requirement that police detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally may invite racial profiling, whereas the ban on rental agreements may incite landlords to make illegal inquiries of renters.

There is also some Supreme Court jurisprudence regarding immigrants and access to K-12 public schools.

With such strict provisions, you can expect a lawsuit very soon. However, a definitive answer as to the legality of the new Alabama immigration law likely won't be available for years.

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