After three weeks of examining html and deleting widgets and replacing templates...the comments are finally open again. I hope.
I know that xenophobes will slam me on this, but maybe some state senators have seen the light. Bham News "Some senators skip immigration bill talks"
The immigration bill that is (not) moving through the Alabama Senate amounts to nothing more than legalized ethnic cleansing, much like the bill that has taken effect in Oklahoma.
Mis-statements such as this "Supporters of the bill said Alabama is spending too much money on health care, education and law enforcement because of a steady flow of illegal immigrants," fuel the flames of hatred and prejudice.
Sworn testimony before the Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission states " it is now clear that the exact inverse is true: recent immigrants are less likely than natives to be involved in criminal activity, and an influx of immigrants—with or without status—generally causes a reduction in crime" and "A recent study in Georgia estimated that immigrants without status contribute $215 to $252 million to Georgia’s coffers, and Texas estimates that immigrants without status contribute $380 million more to the state coffers than they use in state-provided services." I can provide more information about the basis for this testimony, but the point is there is no reason to think that immigrants in Alabama affect our economy or safety any more than any other state... Alabama xenophobes would rather rely on hype and sterotype than facts and research.
Here is an editorial from the Anniston Star, printed in its entirety.
Commission’s proposals fuel racial intolerance in our state
By Allison Neal Special to The Star
Since this nation’s founding, more than 55 million immigrants from every continent have settled in the United States. Yet every wave of immigrants has faced fear, discrimination, hostility and stereotyping.
We are currently witnessing such a period, as evidenced by the recommendations issued earlier this month by Alabama’s Joint Interim Patriot Immigration Commission. If the Legislature follows these recommendations, it will come at the unacceptably high cost of sacrificing the U.S. Constitution and our American ideals of equality and fairness. As such, the ACLU opposes these attempts to establish and enforce immigration policies at the state and local level.
The commission’s recommendations attempt to legislate locally in the area of immigration law. This is a violation of the longstanding constitutional principle that immigration regulation is the sole jurisdiction of the federal government.
The United States makes immigration a federal responsibility for good reasons. Localized attempts to control immigration do not take into account the complexity of existing federal law. Instead, they create a patchwork of differing standards across the country, which leads to confusion and can place individuals in the impossible position of trying to comply with two sets of incompatible rules.
Many of the commission’s recommendations also fuel racial intolerance and discrimination. For example, expanding the role of state and local law enforcement to apply immigration laws invites discrimination against individuals who “appear” or “sound” foreign.
In this country, we value fairness and equality. Racial profiling violates our nation’s basic constitutional commitment to equal justice under the law, and stands in direct contravention of 14th Amendment mandates.
Additionally, law enforcement policies primarily designed to scrutinize members of ethnic, racial and religious groups are ineffective, illegal and may subject Alabama to costly litigation.
A number of the commission’s recommendations appear to be based on pervasive myths concerning the immigrant population. For example, one recommendation would require a person to show lawful presence in the United States in order to receive public benefits from the state of Alabama. This is a non-issue. Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for the vast majority of state and federal benefits and are only eligible for those that are considered important to public health and safety, such as emergency medical care.
Additionally, it is unclear from the recommendations what sort of documentation would be necessary to prove lawful presence. If the proposal is interpreted to require all persons to show government-issued ID cards prior to receiving benefits, vulnerable populations such as the elderly, who are less likely to have access to these ID cards will be disproportionately impacted.
Another recommendation, described as a proposal to ensure public safety, would expand the so-called 287(g) program and “educate, train and equip local and state law enforcement on how to properly enforce current laws.”
To label this as a public safety measure is extremely misleading. According to a publication by New York University press, a higher immigrant population either has no effect on crime or is associated with lower levels of crime and violence.
Furthermore, state and local police already have the tools they need to arrest and detain criminals, including the full power to arrest noncitizens involved in criminal activity.
Using state and local police to enforce civil immigration law puts everyone’s safety in jeopardy and is a bad use of public resources. Police officers depend on the cooperation and trust of immigrants to carry out their jobs. When immigrants do not feel safe to come forward when crimes are committed against them and their families, this cooperation and trust evaporates.
In addition, requiring police officers to enforce federal immigration law would strain already scarce law enforcement resources.
Immigration, along with the American ideals of equality, fairness and social tolerance have built the political, economic and cultural strength of this country.
Because immigrants are politically disenfranchised in the United States, they are an especially vulnerable group and an easy target for political leaders who often blame them for causing or contributing to the social, economic and political ills of our society.
We must remember that the constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection apply to all persons in this country, not just U.S. citizens. Divisive and inhumane immigration laws are unjust, legally suspect, and contrary to our national interests and core American values of fundamental fairness and equality.
By eroding the fundamental rights of immigrants, the Joint Interim Patriot Immigration Commission’s recommendations threaten the rights of all Americans, while further reinforcing the second class status of non-citizens.
We at the ACLU of Alabama oppose these recommendations, and the very notion of a two-tiered justice system. We hope that the Legislature works instead to ensure that immigrants, like all other persons in this country, receive the constitutional protections to which they are entitled.
Allison Neal is staff attorney of ACLU of Alabama. Web site: ACLU of Alabama