The fight for immigration reform continues across the country, and now Alabama is the latest state dealing with the contentious issue.
Officials from the U.S. Department of Justice appeared in federal court on Wednesday to face off with attorneys for Alabama over the state’s controversial immigration law. If it takes effect September 1, Alabama will take the lead as having one of the toughest laws in the country against illegal immigrants. Department of Justice officials are suing the state to prevent this from happening.
Alabama, however, is not the first state to develop a radical approach to dealing with illegal immigrants. Arizona was thrust into the national spotlight in April 2010 when Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation making it a crime to be an illegal immigrant in the state. The law still has yet to take effect because the Department of Justice was issued an injunction in the case. Brewer plans to appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Alabama, Department of Justice officials are concerned about racial profiling and feel the state’s law will unfairly target illegal immigrants and communities of color.
“Alabama’s law is designed to affect virtually every aspect of an unauthorized immigrant’s daily life, from employment to housing to transportation to entering into and enforcing contracts to going to school,” a department press release stated.
The Department of Justice went on to say that the Alabama law “further criminalizes mere unlawful presence and, like Arizona’s law, expands the opportunities for Alabama police to push aliens toward incarceration for various new immigration crimes by enforcing an immigration status verification system.”
Lawyers for the state of Alabama, however, argue that the tough law puts the state more in line with the federal government’s mission to crackdown on illegal immigration.
The standoff between states and Washington is not expected to end anytime soon.
The debate reached a peak in the recent years as border states grew fed up with what they contend is a lack of attention by the federal government. As illegal immigrants have moved around the United States, attention has grown in communities not traditionally viewed as havens for those here illegally.
In Georgia, lawmakers developed their answer to the state’s immigration issues with a law similar to Alabama’s. Under the new policy, it would be a state crime to be in Georgia illegally, as it is in Alabama and Arizona. The new policy was to take effect July 1, but a judge blocked parts of the law. Judges blocked similar efforts in Indiana and Utah as well.
Immigration, illegal immigration, Alabama, Georgia, Arizona, Indiana, Utah, Department of Justice, Jan Brewer, illegal aliens, DOJ, Justice Department