Republican State Senators in Alabama have indicated there may be a change underway to amend the state's severe immigration law, which is considered to be the most stringent in the nation and has been challenged in federal court by U.S. Department of Justice.
Several members of the senate GOP have recently stated the law -- which bans undocumented immigrants from engaging in business transactions in the state and allows police to detain suspected immigrants, among other provisions -- has had multiple unintended consequences that need to be addressed.
The first move to confront those concerns may have occurred on Tuesday, when the Alabama senate announced Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, will replace his Republican colleague Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale as the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee in 2012. Beason, the sponsor of the controversial immigration law, came under fire earlier this year when it was revealed that he called the patrons of a predominantly black casino aborigines while wearing a wire during a federal bingo investigation.
Will Look At Different Revisions
While Waggoner simply told The Birmingham News that the senate will be looking at different fixes in regard to the immigration law, Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, specifically told the newspaper that a group of senators are working together to draft amendments to the law.
It's just common sense. Let's step up and say we've made some mistakes, Dial said. It doesn't weaken the bill.
Dial indicated the provisions that criminalize giving charitable aid to undocumented immigrants and require educators to verify the immigration status of their students in public schools will likely be amended, but it is currently unclear as to what else will be addressed.
Thousands of Hispanic children reportedly missed school after most of the law was upheld by a federal court in early October, while the American Civil Liberties Union reports there has been an exodus of Hispanic families fleeing the state in fear of arrest and deportation. Moreover, the nuances of the law's language -- particularly, a provision that prevents undocumented workers from entering into a business transaction with the state or a political subdivision of the state -- has caused some communities to ban undocumented immigrants from retaining water service and has even been interpreted as meaning that every professional licensing board in the state, from air conditioning repair workers to psychologists, must verify the citizenship status of all their licensees during the application and renewal process.
On Monday, the Justice Department filed a brief with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in an attempt to overturn October's decision. In the filing, the department wrote the impact of the Alabama law is clear and deliberate, designed in the language of the legislation's sponsor, to force aliens to 'deport themselves,' and argued the law is unconstitutional and threatens the most basic human needs.
Oral arguments for the appeals case have reportedly been scheduled for the week of Feb. 27. Some have suggested the issue may ultimately be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Justice Department has also sued Arizona and South Carolina over recent immigration legislation, and is considering similar action against Georgia, Indiana and Utah.