Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Alabama schoolteachers are now immigration police

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn inexplicably blocked section 8 of Alabama's new immigration law, but left the chilling and controversial section 28 in place, which may prevent many legal immigrant and U.S. citizen children from going to elementary, middle, and high school.
Section 8 prohibits “[a]n alien who is not lawfully present in the United States” from attending or enrolling in an Alabama “public postsecondary education institution in this state,” and requires any alien attending such an institution to possess either “lawful permanent residence or an appropriate nonimmigrant visa," pending issuance of the court's final judgment. That was blocked. Why she didn't block the more discriminatory and unconstitutional section 28 regarding elementary and secondary school students is not clear.
Section 28 basically makes schoolteachers immigration police and requires them to collect information about  students' parents. That's the chilling effect. I don't think, as conservative as the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals is, the court will give effect to section 28, arguably the most harmful provision in Alabama's immigration law. To quote a former federal judge and law school dean, "That's a quantum leap in nastiness."
The judge enjoined the state from enforcing the last sentence of sections 10(e), 11(e), and 13(h) of the immigration bill, so-called "HB 56" wherein a court of this state shall consider only the federal government’s verification in determining whether an alien is lawfully present in the United States.”
Fnally, the judge enjoined the state from enforcing section 11(f) and (g) of H.B. 56 – “(f) It is unlawful for an occupant of a motor vehicle that is stopped on a street, roadway, or highway to attempt to hire or hire and pick up passengers for work at a different location if the motor vehicle blocks or impedes the normal movement of traffic,” and “(g) It is unlawful for a person to enter a motor vehicle that is stopped on a street, roadway or highway in order to be hired by an occupant of the motor vehicle and to be transported to work at a different location if the motor vehicle blocks or impedes the normal movement of traffic."
That surprised me. But what really surprised me was the "driving while Latino" provisions, which, in my humble opinion, are blatantly unconstitutional. Sections 10 and 12 should have been struck down, given the legislative history when HB 56 was passed by the Alabama Legislature.
The judge's rulings pertain to the Hispanic Coalition lawsuit. Earlier she blocked portions of HB 56 in connection with the lawsuit filed by the U.S. attorney general and threw out the so-called "bishops' lawsuit", which challenged HB 56 on First Amendment issues regarding free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of association.
But most of all, Alabama's new immigration law does not come from a conservative political position; it comes from Republicans who are not at all conservative. In fact, these Republicans are burdening Alabamians with new unfunded state mandates, which is not an action true conservatives take in order to enact public policy. Republicans as liberal do-gooders who force us to spend our money to enforce their laws? Believe it.
Another conservative principle the Alabama immigration laws violate is the concept of limited government. HB 56 is a huge state government intrusion into the lives of Alabamians.
The third conservative principle the Alabama immigration laws violate is the creation of an activist judicial system in which tort reform becomes a Republican joke.  HB 56 actually created causes of action for failure to enforce HB 56, unleashing what may be a torrent of lawsuits across the state.
The only conservative principle the Alabama immigration laws did not violate is "no wars of opportunity or adventure". I'm sure if these neo-liberals could have figured out a way to start a war with HB 56, they would have. They certainly got a bunch of other countries riled up.
Is this stupid immigration reform or what? Get used to it, Alabama.

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