SPLC: Alabama makes costly decision to continue defending anti-immigrant law

Alabama has made a costly and ill-advised decision to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to criminalize Alabamians for providing shelter – or even a ride – to a person unable to prove his immigration status, the Southern Poverty Law Center said today after the state appealed a lower court’s ruling against its anti-immigrant law, also known as HB 56.

“We are deeply disappointed by the state’s continued efforts to defend this immoral and reprehensible anti-immigrant law,” said SPLC Legal Director Mary Bauer. “Despite the fact that our state has suffered incredible economic and humanitarian costs over the past two years as a result of HB 56, Gov. Robert Bentley has chosen to continue defending it.”

The state filed a petition this week asking the Supreme Court to review the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that blocked a provision of HB 56 that criminalizes humanitarian assistance to undocumented individuals, such as providing shelter or transportation.

“The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sent a strong message last summer when it blocked this provision; we are confident the Supreme Court will agree,” Bauer said.

Alabama filed the petition as part of a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit challenging the law. The SPLC also has challenged the law in federal court.

HB 56 currently mandates that law enforcement officers verify immigration status during traffic stops and requires businesses to confirm the immigration status of workers. State and local government agencies also must verify the immigration status of people applying for certain licenses, including business and driver’s licenses.