Even though recent court decisions and interpretations from the state’s Attorney General have limited the implementation of Alabama’s punitively harsh immigration law, HB 56, much of the damage has already been done. In an investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the AFL-CIO, Alabama residents were interviewed and it was found that the complications from this law go well beyond the official implementation of the law’s provisions with both reports finding that the law is just one part of an agenda to deny people their fundamental rights.
HRW found that the law not only denies unauthorized immigrants education, utilities, housing, and other basic necessities, it also denies them fundamental rights since they are denied due process and access to the courts, which cannot enforce contracts between an “alien unlawfully present” and any other party. It was also found that since the law was implemented, employers have refused to pay their employees, landlords have refused to make critical repairs, and lawyers, judges and court interpreters have threatened to report suspected unauthorized immigrants. The law has created an environment ripe with harassment, discrimination and abuse where people who “look” or “sound” like immigrants are treated as less than human. People are fearful of calling the police when they are victimized by crime, they are afraid of driving their kids to school or have withdrawn them from school altogether for fear of being detained. One woman reported that a clerk at a major discount store told her she needed proof of U.S. citizenship to fill a prescription. HRW has also reported that strangers make derogatory or abusive remarks in public, that school children are being traumatized and bullied by their classmates, and businesses that employ immigrants–illegal or otherwise–are being boycotted and forced out of business.
Americans who want a practical solution to our problems with our immigration system understand that laws intended to make life miserable for immigrants so as to force them to leave a particular city or state is not the way to go. Our hearts go out to the men, women and children who are being victimized by this malicious and unfortunate situation. We hope this is all put to an end as soon as possible. This maltreatment of immigrants due to state immigration enforcement may be stopped if in the upcoming hearing the Supreme Court rules that this behavior on behalf of the states is unconstitutional. We shall have our hopes up while we wait and see how the forthcoming events develop.