Center for American Progress

100 Reasons Why Alabama’s Immigration Law Is a Disaster

100 Reasons Why Alabama’s Immigration Law Is a Disaster

The Center for American Progress's Immigration team counts down the law's consequences for the state.

 (Center for American Progress)
(Center for American Progress)

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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.