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100 Reasons Why Alabama’s Immigration Law Is a Disaster

SOURCE: Center for American Progress

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Alabama’s H.B. 56, signed into law on June 9, 2011, is the nation’s harshest anti-immigrant law. The bill makes it a crime to be without status, requires law enforcement to check the papers of anyone they suspect of being undocumented, mandates that public schools check the legal status of their students, abrogates any contract made with an undocumented immigrant, and makes it a felony for undocumented immigrants to contract with a government entity (even for a service as fundamental as water connection).

From endangering all Alabamans’ health and safety to undermining the rule of law and economic growth, here are the 100 reasons why this law is becoming a train wreck for the state in every way imaginable:

10 numbers you need to know about the law

1. 2.5 percent—The percentage of Alabama’s population that is undocumented.

2. $40 million—A conservative estimate of how much Alabama’s economy would contract if only 10,000 undocumented immigrants stopped working in the state as a result of H.B. 56.

3. $130 million—The amount Alabama’s undocumented immigrants paid in taxes in 2010.

4. $300,000—The amount one farmer, Chad Smith of Smith Farms, estimates he has lost because of labor shortages in the wake of H.B. 56. 

5. 2,285—The number of Hispanic students who did not attend class on the first Monday following the judge’s ruling upholding key parts of H.B. 56., including the provision mandating schools to check the immigration status of students.

6. 15 percent—The percentage of absent Hispanic students (at peak) too afraid to attend school, comprising 5,143 children, since the law went into effect.

7. 1.3 percent—The percentage of Alabama schoolchildren who are not citizens of the United States.

8. 2,000—The number of calls made in the first week to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hotline.

9. $1.9 million—The amount of money that was spent by Arizona to defend S.B. 1070, a similar anti-immigrant law.

10. $2.8 billion—What it would cost the government if they were to deport all 120,000 undocumented migrants in Alabama.

Public health

11. Children won’t get required immunizations.

12. Communicable diseases will spread.

13. Mothers won’t get adequate prenatal care

14. Babies will require more medical services

15. U.S. citizen children and those in lawful status won’t get adequate health care

16. Water will be less safe. 

17. Restaurants will be unable to get health permits

18. Food supplies will be less safe

19. Public health costs will increase

20. All of the people of Alabama will suffer negative health consequences. 

Families

21. Parents of citizen kids are living in fear of losing their children

22. 28,000 citizen children are vulnerable to losing a parent

23. U.S. citizen children will be forced into foster care. 

24. Families are being uprooted and forced to flee the state

25. Families are losing their breadwinner

26. Families are being forced out of their housing

27. Parents cannot protect or provide for their children

28. Children are being traumatized

29. U.S. citizen children are being forced to provide for their families

30. The basic social unit of Alabama society is being torn apart. 

Rule of law

31. Sales contracts are unenforceable.

32. Attorney-client confidentiality will be a crime

33. Every person will have to “show their papers” to do the simplest of daily tasks—even to check a book out of the library.

34. Labor contracts are unenforceable.

35. Leases are unenforceable.

36. Real estate sales contracts are unenforceable.

37. All Alabamans will have to prove citizenship status to get government-run municipal services like water.

38. No one can get a license without proving citizenship status—not even a dog license

39. Every U.S. citizen or lawful resident in Alabama will need to prove their status in order to do any business in or with the state, including paying their taxes.

40. Access to the courts will require proof of legal status

Community safety

41. Police will be forced to become immigration agents

42. Crimes will go unreported

43. Victims of crime will not get protection

44. Women will become more vulnerable in the home and in the workplace

45. Children will become less safe as they are thrown into state custody

46. Scarce state resources will be diverted to immigration enforcement rather than criminal law enforcement

47. Water will become less safe

48. Workplaces will become less safe

49. Service providers will be forced to become cops

50. Community safety and trust will be undermined

Faith communities

51. Immigrants will fear going to places of worship

52. Religious leaders will be barred from practicing their ministries

53. Religious programs and services will require “papers please.”

54. Those who provide faith-related services to undocumented persons can be prosecuted for committing a felony.

55. Giving a person a ride to worship will be a crime

56. Providing food at a church dinner will be a crime.

57. Providing shelter will be a crime

58. Performing a marriage or baptism will be a crime

59. Religious values will be undermined

60. Religious institutions will be forced to decide between their faith and the law. 

Agriculture

61. Farmers have lost many skilled workers at peak harvest time

62. Crops are rotting in the fields

63. Farmers lost capital needed to invest in next year’s seeds and crops

64. Farmers are burdened with new costs to verify the immigration status of every worker

65. Farmers are unable to find local native workers to harvest crops

66. Farmers cannot enforce contracts with workers or subcontractors

67. Farmers are forced to spend time and money transporting workers.

68. Farmers are subject to felony convictions for transporting, housing, or feeding their workers

69. Alabama farmers have no access to a legal immigrant workforce

70. The Alabama agricultural sector will be destroyed

Education

71. Children are afraid to come to school

72. The state is losing a potential pool of educated citizens

73. Schools will be hurt financially.

74. Alabama’s schools already face significant fiscal challenges with poor student results

75. Educators are forced to become immigration agents

76. Children fear that they will be forced to report the status of their parents

77. The teacher/student relationship is undermined

78. The educational environment is one of fear rather than safety

79. U.S. citizen and lawful resident children are fearful as well

80. The federal government has to intervene to project the rights of children

Government

81. The state will lose significant tax revenues

82. City and county financial problems will deepen

83. The state pension system will be harmed

84. Everyone will pay more for goods and services

85. Public schools will face shrinking revenues and new costs

86. Public utilities will be hit with new costs

87. Law enforcement will face added costs

88. Children’s services will face increased difficulties and costs

89. State taxpayers will be burdened

90. Government will be diverted from its core service and public safety functions

Economy

91. Businesses are losing workers

92. Businesses are seeing fewer customers

93. Key sectors of state economy are suffering irreparable damage

94. The agriculture sector is already experiencing major losses

95. The state tourism industry is threatened

96. The overall costs of doing business in Alabama are higher

97. New businesses are already canceling projects in Alabama

98. The state is losing taxpayers.

99. The costs of defending the new law are significant

100. The state is facing new costs from an unfunded mandate

See also:

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.741.6285 or kpeters@americanprogress.org

Print: Anne Shoup (foreign policy and national security, energy, LGBT issues, health care, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7146 or ashoup@americanprogress.org

Print: Crystal Patterson (immigration)
202.478.6350 or cpatterson@americanprogress.org

Print: Madeline Meth (women's issues, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.741.6277 or mmeth@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Lindsay Hamilton
202.483.2675 or lhamilton@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org