Alabama Senate Doubles Down On Law That Drove Hispanic Students From Public Schools

(Source: al.com)

The Alabama State Senate voted 20-7 today on changes to HB 56, the nation’s harshest immigration law. Unlike the replacement bill passed by the House, the Senate bill preserves most of the law, including a provision that requires schools to check the immigration status of their students. That provision led to 7% of the Hispanic students in Alabama public schools to miss school the day after the law went into effect for fear that the parents of undocumented students would be deported. Because the bill has scared so many students away from school, Alabama schools may lose funding that is dependent on attendance.

The provision scaring children away from schools is not the only harsh provision left intact by the new bill leaves. Unchanged provisions include one that bars undocumented aliens from renting property and another that allows law enforcement to check immigration status based on a “reasonable suspicion.” It also preserves a section that proscribes a variety of penalties, including permanent loss of license, for businesses that hire undocumented workers. Plus, the new bill piles on by adding another harsh provision requiring the state Department of Homeland Security “to post a quarterly list of the names of any undocumented alien who appears in court for a violation of state law, regardless of whether they were convicted.”

The one bright side of the bill is that it clarifies which “business transactions” undocumented immigrants are prevented from entering into with the state. The new bill only requires proof of citizenship for getting car tags and driver’s, business, and commercial licenses — a change that clarifies a provision that has been used to deny water to immigrants in their homes.

Because the regular session of the Senate ends at midnight tonight, the House and Senate much reach a compromise today for these changes to go into effect. Opponents of the law protested before and after the vote by the Senate, and protests are expected to continue. Four of seven protestors who blocked a Senate hallway were led away in handcuffs.

–Alex Brown