H.B. 56 Is Hurting Alabama

In June 2011 Alabama passed the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, H.B. 56. The law, which took effect in late September, lives up to its billing as the nation’s toughest immigration bill and goes well beyond the Arizona law (S.B. 1070) on which it was based.

H.B. 56 requires schools to check and report the immigration status of their students and bars undocumented students from postsecondary education. It instructs police to demand proof of immigration status from anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally, even on a routine traffic stop or roadblock. It also invalidates any contract knowingly entered into with an illegal alien, including routine agreements such as a rent contract, and makes it a felony for an unauthorized immigrant to enter into a contract with a government entity. Finally, it goes beyond any previous legislation by effectively making it a crime to be undocumented in the state.

The law’s impact, by virtue of the fact that much of it went into effect, has been swift and detrimental to the state, with a significant exodus of Latinos. But in a state already ravaged by tornadoes and lagging in economic recovery, the costs and social effects of the law have been particularly harsh.

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