Why Republicans Are Doing an About-Face on Tough Alabama Immigration Law

Patrik Jonsson, Christian Science Monitor, November 16, 2011

Acknowledging a growing list of unintended consequences stemming from the implementation of the nation’s toughest anti-illegal immigration law, key Alabama Republicans are gathering ideas for how to tweak the legislation to make it less onerous on Alabamans and less dehumanizing for illegal immigrants.

News of the about-face comes as 13 protesters, some of them illegal immigrants risking deportation, were arrested in Montgomery on Tuesday in an attempt to bring attention to a law that has sparked fear and trepidation among some Hispanic immigrants, even as it’s been applauded by national groups working for tougher immigration enforcement.

The architect of the law, Sen. Scott Beason, once said the state needed to “empty the clip” on illegal immigration in order to reduce state expenditures and return jobs to legal US citizens. But as the full impact of HB 56 sinks in, Republican leaders in the Senate are realizing the law–a centerpiece in the national immigration debate–needs a major overhaul.

The ultimate unintended consequence of HB56, says one key Republican, is that it opens Alabama up for criticism that it’s reverting to the kind of overt racism that marked the state’s response to the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

“There are things in the law we just didn’t see,” says Sen. Gerald Dial (R), of Lineville, who is part of a team of lawmakers working on a do-over of HB56. “Every time I see a major news clip of dogs attacking protesters in Birmingham [from the civil rights era], even though we’re way beyond that, this bill drags us back into that hole. It’s opened up a window that we didn’t need. I’m a big enough guy to say I made a mistake and that I’ll do everything I can do to correct it.”

{snip}

But the economic effects of the law have begun to pile up as many immigrants have left the state, fearing deportation–and have taken their purchasing power with them. Prof. Samuel Addy at the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama recently predicted that HB 56 will reduce the Alabama economy by $40 million as income and spending by both illegal and legal Hispanic immigrants will decline.

What’s more, employers face troves of fresh paperwork and licensing requirements to comply with the law that they say will potentially hurt business.

Indeed, the driving force behind revising the law, Republicans say, is its impact on legal Alabamians.

Senator Dial says it’s primarily complaints from constituents–farmers, doctors, lawyers, and contractors among them–that are driving him to alter the law by Christmas. Among the bill’s requirements that Dial wants to change:

• A requirement that mandates proof of legal residence or citizenship for every transaction with the state and local government.

• Requirements that force, for example, pharmacists to check the residency status of specific suppliers, which promises to create an avalanche of new paperwork.

• Requiring that “officers of the court” report illegal immigrants, which means that lawyers may have to break confidentiality agreements with their clients.

• Dial says he wants to add a “good samaritan” clause so people who help illegal immigrants out of charity–such as at a soup kitchen–aren’t in danger of being arrested for a felony.

• He also wants to take out a provision where schools check the immigration status of new students, the fount of much of the criticism of the law.

{snip}

While Dial has been working for several months on the tweaks, the decision by a Senate assignment committee this week to remove Mr. Beason, the tough-talking architect of the law, from chair of the powerful Senate Rules Committee and replace him with Sen. Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills, signaled Republicans’ intent to pave the way for changes in the law. “We are looking at different fixes,” Mr. Waggoner told the Birmingham News.

{snip}

“We’re loving, caring, compassionate people in Alabama, not hateful and mean as we’ve been painted by this bill,” Dial says. “I want to remove some of that stigma.”

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  • Question Diversity

    Why Republicans Are Doing an About-Face on Tough Alabama Immigration Law

    Answer: The cheap labor lobby is cracking the whip.

  • Anonymous

    Our masters have noticed we don’t care about rigged elections no matter how blatant they contradict what we want.

    Why should the republicans give lip service to this?

    Millions of militant anti-immigration Americans are told, well, you are the minority and the majority outvoted you, and they roll over and never question the truth of that. Disgraceful.

  • white is right, black is whack

    Republicans are afraid of being racist? Well, guess what? Their loyal voters are tired of them being afraid of being called racists.

  • C. Konev

    “News of the about-face comes as 13 protesters, some of them illegal immigrants risking deportation, were arrested in Montgomery on Tuesday in an attempt to bring attention to a law that has sparked fear and trepidation among some Hispanic immigrants…”

    If you break the law and sneak into a country, you SHOULD feel fear and trepidation about getting caught and facing punishment. It’s one of the reasons we have laws. If I commit a murder maybe I should protest or file lawsuits over homicide laws so I won’t have to feel fear and trepidation anymore about the murder I’ve committed. This is one of the reasons laws work. When people no longer have to fear getting caught for the laws they’ve broken, laws cease keep order.

    The attitude of these criminals is astonishing. That they feel entitled to break our laws and not have to suffer the consequences is sickening.

  • Crystal Evans

    I personally think that this law is not racist. This law reflects a state that has been bombarded by numbers of illegal immigrants coming into their borders draining social services budgets of every county in that state. Since the federal government has not taken any action to enforce existing laws to send this people home, the state is forced to take actions that appear to be racist but it is not, they are trying to balance their budgets.

  • Anonymous

    The proposed federal law mandating that employers use E-verify was written by the US Chamber of Commerce. The federal E-verify law forbids states from passing their own state laws to enforce E-verify.

    If that federal law passes with the joint efforts of Democrats who hate Whites for racial reasons and Republicans who hate White wages, hours and working conditions, we are totally s****ed.

  • Tom S.

    Well it looks like the people of Alabama have a few “compassionate conservative” RINOs that need to be shown the door, I do hope they remember them come election time. I live in Missouri and I’ve already made my list that I’ll be taking into the voting booth. To the “real” Americans in Alabama – start making your list and have Rep.Dial and Sen. Waggoner at the top or you will be California in ten years.

    *-that HB 56 will reduce the Alabama economy by $40 million as income and spending by both illegal and legal Hispanic immigrants will decline.

    Isn’t it funny that they always tell us how much revenue will be “lost” but they never tell us how much revenue they cost the state.

  • Anonymous

    Think by now it should be pretty clear to anyone that the Republican party’s goal for this election is to ensure that Obama gets a second term.

  • Tired of It

    Oh, the Rebooblicans have done it now. They’ve used the one word that’s suppose to make everyone (white especially) gasp and shudder with fear….RACISM. Well, we don’t buy into that pandering, ignorant word anymore. Not anybody with any sense and a pair of eyes that can see through the cloud of smoke the media blows.

    Illegal immigration, in fact way too much immigration, is breaking the back of America. They take our jobs, get free handouts, subvert what’s being taught to our children, the list doesn’t end.

    I have an interesting observation. Msnbc.com had a headline on Nov. 13th, 2011 called “New US Policy Causes Deportation Confusion”. The majority of the comments were against illegal immigration. Msnbc.com pulled this article quite early in the commenting process. With only five hundred and something comments. If they had left it up it would have easily had thousands of comments. But the globally controlled media will not show the truth-that most people in this country are disgusted with illegal immigration and the way our law makers and politicians are ignoring the issue and pandering to them.

  • SS

    Everyone knows why they’re doing it. They’re doing it to ensure they and theirs stay behind their “Golden Gates” of course.

    They’ve always known (becasue they had access to the REAL information) what was coming and have done nothing but ensure their (theirs and theirs) future against it and to hell with the rest of us.

    One day, we will band together and when we do, we will re-establish except this time, we will KNOW what it means to allow in “exceptions”.

    Next time, “We” will know “exceptions” are to help and Rule over their own and not to be welcomed by us.

  • Henry Clay

    The Republicans need to remember that the Hispanic fence hoppers never suffered from U.S. slavery or Jim Crow and that they compete directly against African Americans more than any other ethnic group in regard to the kinds of jobs they hold.

    If you are a racist–you will continue to prefer illegal foreign nationals over black Americans.

  • Anonymous

    Having hired employees for my Corp I always got a state ID and a SS card or they were not hired. it cost me a few pennies in time per employee and I hired hundreds of them. Either you have the guts to enforce the law or you need to resign your position of trust to enforce the it. The idea that you can pick and chose laws to enforce and ignore others you don’t have the guts to enforce does not make it.

  • June

    I’ve lived long enough to see my country do a complete about face on enforcing its laws…selectively. When a citizen breaks into someone’s house, he has committed a crime. When an illegal alien breaks into our country, he is rewarded. Where is the justice? When a nation, the greatest in history, throws up its hands and says “we can’t deport illegal aliens,” then we have truly become the laughingstock of the world. Thank heavens, this adminstration and several past weren’t in charge on Dec. 7, 1941.

  • Anonymous

    The Chamber of Commerce-type Republicans have been given their marching orders. The loss of $40 million in revenue from the invaders? If it’s true, so what? Factor in the cost of schools, medical, EBT, welfare, crime, prisons, ruined neighborhoods, etc.

  • Duran Dahl

    The visible, public aspect of American politics is much like TV wrestling “…full of much sound and fury and signifying nothing…” It is mere kabuki theater with the elites moving the characters around to suit their nefarious purposes. The GOP is shuffling around to find a “bum-of-the-month” to get trounced by Obama. McCain redux. A neutral observer would have no difficulty discerning the carefully engineered arc of white decline. We need a leader and hopefully providence will deliver. Regardless, we are heading inexorably towards that revolution that Thomas Jefferson recommended. In the mean time, we are on our own. Keep your powder dry.

  • ATBOTL

    “Senator Dial says it’s primarily complaints from constituents—farmers, doctors, lawyers, and contractors among them—that are driving him to alter the law by Christmas.”

    In other words, the cheap labor lobby is at it again.

  • The Bobster

    http://goo.gl/KZyJv

    The Fulford File | So Why Doesn’t The “Broken Windows” Theory Apply To Illegal Aliens?

    By James Fulford on November 18, 2011

    In Alabama, where the Treason Lobby is very active these days, there was a protest this week by a bunch of illegal Dream Act kids, all of whom were arrested—and none of whom are being deported:

    “All 13, mostly college and Latino, people arrested for sitting down in the middle of the street in front of Alabama’s Statehouse Tuesday during a protest of Alabama’s tough immigration law have been released from jail Thursday.

    “Ten were released on $300 bond each Thursday afternoon from the city jail and left out the front door of the Montgomery Police Department chanting “undocumented, unafraid.” Attorney Mike Winter says the final two were let out later

    “…A spokesman for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency hasn’t lodged a detainer against any of the protesters.” [Emphasis added]

    All 13 Arrested Alabama Immigration Protesters Released, Fox News Latino, November 18, 2011

    Needless to say, the Mexican government would not tolerate foreigners demonstrating in Mexico—even if they were there legally.

    But it’s all too familiar in the U.S. After the Rodney King Riots the first Bush administration refused to do anything about the rioters who were illegal immigrants:

    “At a Cabinet meeting today, Attorney General William P. Barr said nearly one-third of the first 6,000 [Los Angeles] riot suspects arrested and processed through the court system were illegal aliens, according to a senior Administration official. Barr has not proposed any special effort to have them deported, a Justice Department spokesman said.”

    Tape Shows L.A. Police Abandoning Area Where Riot Began, By Paul Taylor, Washington Post, May 6, 1992

    Quoted in Time To Rethink Immigration, by Peter Brimelow, National Review, June 22, 1992

    And it’s in blatant contradiction of the much-celebrated “Broken Windows” theory of law enforcement. Stemming from a 1982 article by neoconservative political scientist James Q. Wilson [BROKEN WINDOWS: The police and neighborhood safety (PDF), Atlantic Monthly, March 1982], this theory holds that if you allow visible signs of lawlessness, even minor ones, you will get more lawlessness, whereas a determination to enforce the law against obvious but minor crimes can bear fruit in controlling the more serious crimes. Its application is widely credited with significant crime reduction

    In New York in the 1980s, the authorities would say they couldn’t be bothered to arrest people committing misdemeanours and public nuisances in the streets because there was so much serious crime. This gave criminals a sense of immunity, and citizens a sense of helplessness.

    Of course, to an unspoken extent, the authorities didn’t even want to stop misdemeanors, because they were emotionally on the side of the criminals. Here I’m looking directly at David Dinkins.

    When New Yorkers elected Rudy Giuliani, and started cracking down on some of this stuff, they experienced a massive drop in crime.

    But why would this not also apply to immigration enforcement? The (federal) authorities are refusing to arrest illegals who are plainly visible, claiming that they’re focusing protecting the country from major criminals. So they can’t find time to arrest people who are publicly protesting, saying “we’re illegal” or “you can’t deport us all”.

    The federal government is in effect saying that, after all these years of non-enforcement, they’ve let the problem grow so big that they can’t do anything.

    Of course, we now know, thanks to Federale’s reporting on the Obama Administrative Amnesty, that the government doesn’t want to do anything.

    All right, if you feel you can’t deport 20 million people, how about one million? Half a million? How about one guy, standing on a street corner, shouting “I’m illegal!”

    And again this gives illegals a sense of immunity—and citizens a sense of helplessness.

    Recently we’ve seen Jose Antonio Vargas publish My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant [New York Times, June 22, 2011] and set up a foundation called DefineAmerican [Email it](with George Soros’s money) to promote more lawbreaking. But has he been arrested? No! He’s reporting from Birmingham, Alabama now.

  • Anonymous

    Requiring that “officers of the court” report illegal immigrants, which means that lawyers may have to break confidentiality agreements with their clients.

    But those agreements are illegal and unenforceable.

  • Steven

    Actually they are not afraid of being labeled racists. The about face has been caused by local business leaders realizing that when customers are kicked out of town, business tends to drop. This is exactly what happened in Arizona, and why business leaders pushed for the recall of Senator Pearce.

    Business knows that when legislation begins kicking out a customer base, losses start to become real, and the arbitrary issue of documentation loses its priority.

    We are a consumer driven economy. Business likes more consumers, rather than less. It makes no difference to the local store, landlord, or sales tax collector if a person applied for a visa or not – just so that he or she spends and pays rent.

    Arizona’s sales tax revenue has been in a sharp decline ever since sb 1070. Some might argue that this is because we are in a recession, however, compared to other states, Arizona’s shortfall is more pronounced.

    Landlords are also feeling the pinch in Arizona. Commercial and residential units that were once providing a steady income to their owners are now empty and facing certain foreclosure. Once more, the state loses a revenue stream.

    I am convinced Alabama is looking at Arizona and has decided to tone down the rhetoric. It just doesn’t make sense to kick out your customers.

  • Fritz

    We hear it again and again; “Republicans can’t won this election with __% of the Hispanic vote”. The fact that there is a block of voters who define themselves by their race/ethicity and are able to affect elections to their own best interests as opposed to the general interests of the majority, is the elephant in the room that should be the issue of concern, not only for Republicans, but for the country at large. This line of thinking pandering to Hispanics won’t change until European-Americans form their own “block”. What we need is a coalition of European Americans that will act as a unit to direct the political power of all the many socially acceptable groups that already exist. I think Whites in this country are waking up to the hypocracy of the position that every other race and or ethnic group has a right to work for their own best interests and Whites are forbidden to do the same. Any leaders out there?

  • Question Diversity

    20 Fritz:

    Those smart aleck talking heads probably have not yet heard of the concept of political leverage in Presidential elections.

    If one Hispanic voter in California that ordinarily votes Democrat somehow decides to vote Republican next year, it will not change California’s electoral votes (Obama will win it), therefore it will not change the calculus of the electoral college.

    If one Southern Baptist preacher in Alabama that always votes Republican somehow goes flaky and votes Obama next year, likewise. The Republican will still win Alabama, and therefore, the math of the electoral college will not change.

    If a working middle class blue collar white voter in Ohio who voted Obama four years ago votes Republican next year, it might actually swing the whole Presidential election.

    Swing voters in swing states will decide who is on Capitol Hill on January 21, 2013 taking the oath. And those are working middle class blue collar whites in rust belt states, for the most part. AFAIK, the only swing states with heavy Hispanic voter bases are NV and CO.

    Nationally speaking, if you lose 9 Hispanic votes, all you need to get back to par is one white vote. I’m sure the ratio is higher or lower in various states.

    Ask Obama or Romney personally if you can — Which would you rather have in your column on election night? Nevada and Colorado, or Ohio and Pennsylvania? (Hint: Either OH or PA has more electoral votes than NV+CO put together.)

  • Dino

    This article is 90% bull! One sided as usual! I live and go to high school here in Alabama. We are already seeing a major savings in reduced social welfare cost and our unemployment levels are already dropping! Here in our county, we even had a major drop in drinking and driving arrests! The social welfare/medical cost of taking care of illegals and their children far outweigh the money they spend!