Top Immigration Headlines: October 2011
After federal Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn upheld most portions of Alabama’s immigration law, journalists in October reported how the decision may be affecting not only immigrants themselves, but also Alabama schools and public health.
The law is the most restrictive of the immigration laws passed in multiple states this year. One provision of the Alabama law authorizes police to check the immigration status of drivers. However, the provision requiring schools to review birth certificates of all incoming students at public schools was blocked pending a Supreme Court decision.
Here is a sample of reactions as most of the law was implemented.
Although Alabama “seems ill-suited to be the nation’s immigration battleground,” the case conjures up images of civil rights court battles in the 1950s and 60s. The Associated Press reported that the scene is all too familiar. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on controversial state immigration laws, but it looks like Alabama’s strictest laws yet will offer the Court the first opportunity to make a decision.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley says out-of-state advocacy groups are out of touch with the progress that Alabama has made in civil rights in the last 50 years, so the association is a misperception.
According to Alicia A. Caldwell of the Associated Press, a federal appeals court in Atlanta temporarily blocked part of the law that required public schools to check the immigration status of students. However, other parts of the law will be implemented while courts reach a final decision over the next several months. For example, law enforcement officials will be authorized to detain anyone suspected of being in the country without proper documentation.
Jay Reeves, also of the Associated Press, reported that Alabama’s new immigration law could increase the risk of illnesses when Hispanic immigrants, afraid of being locked up, discontinue medical care at government clinics.
Although most health programs administered through clinics are federally funded, community leaders are concerned that immigrants don’t know that the new law doesn’t affect federally-funded clinics. The drop in patients has been noticeable especially in north Alabama, home of the region’s poultry and agriculture industry.
According to Hannah Garcia of the Foley Onlooker, some local Hispanic residents are moving to other states out of fear that they will be locked up under the new immigration law. Several small towns in Baldwin County, Alabama, have seen a dip in attendance of Hispanic residents in local schools and churches.
The Huntsville Police Department is encouraging all motorists to carry their driver’s license, said Brian Lawson of The Huntsville Times. If an officer cannot verify that you have a license and has a reasonable suspicion that you are out of status, the officer will bring you to a local magistrate to have your immigration status verified. Law enforcement cannot use race, color or national origin as a basis to stop drivers on the highway.