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Alabama Immigration Law Controversy Continues

It is being reported that immigrant children in the state are facing more bullying and taunts at school since Alabama’s tough crackdown on illegal immigration took effect last month. Just last week, a basketball game amongst seventh-graders turned ugly when children of Latin descent defeated a group of boys from Alabama, leading to name-calling and malicious comments on behalf of the latter. “They told them, ‘You shouldn’t be winning. You should go back to Mexico,'” said a woman who witnessed it all. But since this has not been the first nor will it likely be the last, officials at the Justice Department are now monitoring for bullying incidents linked to the law. The DOJ has established a bilingual telephone hotline and special e-mail account for residents to report any violence or threats based on racial or ethnic background that could be linked to the law.

Opponents of this immigration law-which is being challenged by the Obama administration, individuals and private groups-contend the law is creating a climate of fear and mistrust in the state that is unsettling for immigrants who are both legal and illegal. Furthermore, a new report from an economist at the University of Alabama says the controversial new immigration law will have serious economic costs for the state. According to the Center for Business and Economic Research at the university, “the law is certain to be a drag on the economic development even without considering costs associated with enforcement of the law. The law will reduce demand in the state economy as illegal immigrants flee the state which will shrink the income and spending generated by those individuals.” Yet despite this evidence, proponents of the law will not waver. Supporters of the law contend it is vital to reducing the cost of state and local government by getting illegal immigrants off public assistance, also arguing that the law will create more jobs for legal citizens.

This issue has without a doubt left people from both sides of the divide fuming over the others’ position. Immigrants tell of dirty looks in grocery stores, and online forums are full of angry, anonymous comments from both supporters and opponents of the law. While supporters of the law are criticized for their harsh views that border on inhumane treatment of illegal immigrants, opponents of the law have also had their share of publicity for their controversial actions. In one case, a woman from Alabama, who says her fiancé is an undocumented immigrant, allegedly threatened the governor’s life over the state’s tough law cracking down on illegal immigration. This woman is accused of calling Gov. Robert Bentley’s office and saying to a member of his staff: “Tell the governor he has a bullet with his name on it.” She was arrested and charged with a felony for threatening the governor who signed the immigration bill into law. It would appear that Alabama has become a hub for negativity due to the immigration law, if only state officials’ knowledge of how detrimental this law would be would have kept them from enacting it.

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