Outrage erupted in Alabama as countless families were denied basic utilities services not because they couldn’t afford them, but because they were undocumented. This is the criterion Decatur Utilities in Alabama has decided to use when determining who gets necessary home utilities from their company. According to the local newspaper, Decatur Utilities is now prohibiting immigrants without proper documentation from obtaining service.
The U.S. Department of Justice predicted this situation when seeking that the new Alabama immigration law, known as HB56 be deemed unconstitutional. But the Alabama State Attorney General rebuffed the DOJ’s claim by stating that the DOJ was “misinterpreting” or “exaggerating” the requisites of the law. Yet because Alabama’s immigration law makes it a felony for immigrants to have business or contracts with the state, can the DOJ really be blamed for alleged erroneous beliefs (which are in fact spot on) when clearly the state is the one at fault here? The State Attorney’s naïveté-or outright negligence–was exposed as the utilities company issued a statement further explaining their modus operandi. “If you’re already a customer and you already have service with us–and there is no discontinuation of service–we don’t have to do anything,” said the company CEO. But if you are undocumented you will be restricted from getting basic necessities such as gas, heat, and water. Some parts of the law, considered the strictest state-level immigration measure in the nation, have been blocked by federal courts. But a section that allows police to check a person’s immigration status during traffic stops still stands. Some immigrants, even those in the country legally, worry that the law could lead to improper detentions or racial profiling. Since Alabama’s law was enacted, many Hispanics have reportedly left the state. Even among legal residents, many said they were leaving either because they feared the law would lead to racial profiling or because they have family members who are here illegally. Can they be blamed? I’m surprised the entire immigrant population living in the state haven’t bolted out of there already. This law is truly an outrage for its draconian pursuits that are spiteful and outright malicious. We hope the government puts a stop to this issue soon.