Latest Alabama Anti-Immigrant Bill a “New Low,” Says National Group of State Legislators



Tuesday, May 22, 2012
CONTACT: Charles Monaco, Director of Communications and New Media, Progressive States Network,


Latest Alabama Anti-Immigrant Bill a “New Low,” Says National Group of State Legislators

Group Representing Lawmakers From 38 States Condemns Alabama Governor for Signing Bill That Includes “Scarlet Letter” Database


New York, NY – State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy – a growing national group of 96 state legislators representing constituents in 38 states and counting – issued the following statement today on last week’s signing of Alabama’s latest anti-immigrant bill, HB 658, into law:

Alabama’s HB 658, signed into law last week by Governor Robert Bentley, marks a new low for extremist, economically devastating anti-immigrant state laws.

Despite earlier signs that Alabama state lawmakers might address some of the more divisive and draconian elements of 2011’s anti-immigrant HB 56 during this year’s legislative session, the signing of this new bill into law ensures that Alabama remains home to the most extreme anti-immigrant state legislation in the country. HB 658 does nothing to revise a provision in the original law — currently enjoined by a federal court — that allows schoolchildren to be interrogated about their and their parents’ immigration status. It also retains parts of the original law that penalize religious institutions for aiding immigrants, authorize personal lawsuits against police chiefs and sheriffs, and mandate that private businesses use the controversial E-Verify program.

Perhaps most troubling is HB 56’s “Scarlet Letter” provision — which forces the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to prominently feature the names and pictures of every undocumented immigrant who appears in court for any violation of state law on their website, regardless of the charge or whether or not they have been convicted of any wrongdoing. This database risks encouraging vigilantism that could target both undocumented immigrants and judges, and it violates the right to due process as well as the widely established individual right to privacy.

Alabama’s shameful anti-immigrant HB 56 has already done serious damage to the state’s economy and reputation, and this year’s bill only adds to this devastation. Instead of recognizing its overreach and returning its focus to creating a sustainable economy for all of its residents, the Alabama legislature went down an even lower road that will lead to further economic devastation and a continuing sense that the state has yet to leave its divisive history behind it. What Alabama needs are real economic solutions to spur a stalled economy, not anti-immigrant demagoguery masquerading as responsible governance.


State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy is a diverse group of state legislators, affiliated with Progressive States Network, who are advancing sensible and progressive approaches to immigration at the state level. These leaders, currently representing 38 states, are rejecting alarmist approaches to immigration in favor of one that reflects our core values as a nation of laws and as a nation of immigrants.

Progressive States Network is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the work of progressive state legislators around the country and to the advancement of state policies that deliver on the issues that matter to working families: integrating immigrants into our communities, strong wage standards and workplace freedom, balancing work and family responsibilities, health care for all, smart growth and clean energy, tax and budget reform, clean and fair elections, and technology investments to bridge the digital divide.