Our view: Immigration law
by Daily Mountain Eagle
May 20, 2012 | 1009 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Thursday, Gov. Robert Bentley announced he would not sign the new bill “tweaking” Alabama’s toughest in the country immigration law without a special session to address two contentious provisions in the legislation.

One of the topics was a measure calling for school systems to record the immigration status of children and their parents. The other was an amendment calling on the Department of Homeland Security to publish the names of illegal immigrants involved in the state’s court proceedings.

It was refreshing to see our governor publicly voice his distaste for these provisions — even using the word “interrogation” in a press release to describe the schools’ measure.

Bentley did a brave thing by going against the political grain and calling for a session to address these most hateful items of a hateful piece of legislation. And he stood behind that decision — for an entire day.

Friday afternoon, however, Bentley announced he would sign the bill as it stands.

A topic that was not planned for the session, but that is in dire need of discussion is the embarrassment this legislation has caused the people of Alabama. Whether it is effective or not, the law has done more than anything in the last decade to further the stereotype of an Alabama busting at the seams with bigots.

Aside from the school provision, Alabama’s immigration law is practically identical to one proposed in Arizona. They’re identical because both were penned by the same man, prominent conservative immigration advisor Kris Kobach.

By taking up and passing the legislation shortly after Arizona faced national media attention and court challenges for its law, Alabama lawmakers put politics before what was best for the state.

And for what? To free up the jobs illegal immigrants were doing. How many people were clamoring to spend eight hours a day with their backs hunched over, picking vegetables for minimum wage?

Illegal immigration is a real problem throughout Alabama and the United States. And Alabama lawmakers are indeed correct when they say the federal government has failed in its responsibility to handle the problem.

The answer to the illegal immigration problem, however, is a simpler, less bureaucratic naturalization process — not traffic stops for driving while brown.

The answer to illegal immigration is: “Give us your tired, your hungry, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”

The answer is not: “Where are your papers?”

- Daily Mountain Eagle