05/08/2012

Alabama Is On the Verge of Passing Another Bad Law

Rather than take steps to correct the humanitarian crisis created by Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, the state legislature appears poised to pass another law as ill conceived as its predecessor.

Time is running out for the state that passed the nation’s toughest anti-immigrant law. This is the last week of the legislature’s regular session and, astonishingly, the effort to reform the state’s anti-immigrant law – and repair the damage it has done – is being led by the very people responsible for the disaster that is HB 56.

They are Rep. Micky Hammon, who stated that he intended the law to “attack every aspect of an illegal immigrant’s life,” and Sen. Scott Beason, who is notorious for his comments suggesting the way to deal with the “immigration problem” is to “empty the clip.”

Other state legislatures have come to see the Alabama debacle as a cautionary tale of what not to do. But, here in Alabama, as of now it looks as though the state will repeat its mistake by allowing these legislators to dictate state law out of hate and for political gain. If their lead is followed, the crisis in Alabama will only worsen.

While the legislation seems to be taking the exact same path it took last year — with their individual measures from Hammon and Beason passing their respective legislative bodies and then going to a closed-door “committee” for picking and choosing between provisions — the leadership appears to be distancing itself from the process.

In a recent news report, the president pro tem of the state Senate, Del Marsh, said that he had not been a part of meetings on the legislation, does not know what the current measure includes and gave Beason free rein over the measure.

He has even been quoted as saying, “Scott said he’s going to go over the legislation, and if it’s at a point that he likes where it’s at, we’ll bring Micky’s bill to the floor, and Scott will sub his bill.”

It’s also less than five months since a federal judge released a ruling that damned last year’s legislative debate — finding it was laced with racism. The judge specifically called out Hammon for discriminatory comments and went as far as to acknowledge the entire law likely was based on discrimination.  In the 108-page ruling, the judge cited numerous examples of derogatory comments and ethnic stereotypes used by lawmakers in their discussion.

This so-called “reform” bill is nothing more than window dressing – apparently aimed at appeasing the state’s business leaders even though the majority of small businesses and the state’s farmers will continue to suffer. And, in some areas, the bill actually makes the original law much worse. 

If this law passes, the crisis in Alabama will only deepen. And, given the added unconstitutional provisions it will create, the Southern Poverty Law Center will be forced to file more lawsuits against the state of Alabama.