Taylor believes Legislature delivered with immigration law

Published 2:32 pm Monday, June 20, 2011

Sen. Bryan Taylor says lawmakers did their job in the recent Legislative session.

“Alabamians said, in the election, that they wanted sweeping conservative reforms and that’s what we got in this legislative session,” said Taylor, R-Prattville.

Taylor said the session saw one of the country’s toughest anti-illegal immigration bills pass into law.

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“The people of Alabama said they wanted an Arizona-style immigration law, it was part of the Republican handshake during the campaign, and the Legislature delivered,” Taylor said. “What we’ve got is a bill that makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to work in the state of Alabama. It makes it a crime for businesses to hire illegal immigrants and it requires businesses to use the E-Verify system to ensure the workers they’re hiring are legal workers, it prohibits public officials from giving sanctuary to illegal aliens and it allows law enforcement to ask for immigration documentation and arrest those who are here illegally.”

Taylor said he believes the law is a step in the right direction and addressed concerns about whether the tough new law would negatively affect prison systems throughout the state.

“What you’re going to see is the people who are here illegally are going to leave,” Taylor said. “I don’t think our jails are going to fill up, because people are going to get the message. We’re going to see a serious reduction in the number of illegal immigrants in the state of Alabama.”

Conservative lawmakers consider the new law a necessary addition to ensure fairness, especially to immigrants who have immigrated to the U.S. legally, following the proper protocol to become a U.S. citizen.

Not everyone is pleased with the law’s mandates.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced its intentions to file a lawsuit against Alabama in an effort to overturn the law.

“By signing this bill into law, Gov. Bentley is willing to sacrifice the civil liberties of all Alabamians, eroding the rights of millions of people living and working in this state,” Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a press release. “This law undermines core American values of fairness and equality, subjecting both citizens and non-citizens alike to unlawful racial profiling, and does nothing to ensure the safety and economic security of Alabama.”

The lawsuit will challenge the constitutionality of Alabama’s “draconian” anti-immigrant law before it goes into effect on Sept. 1.

Taylor said the new law in no way advocates racial profiling by law enforcement officials, an issue with which the ACLU and other civil right’s groups are concerned.

“The law says a law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color, or national origin in enforcing the law,” Taylor said. “Law enforcement officers will have to use other, permissible criteria, such as whether a driver has a valid driver’s license, before attempting to determine the immigration status of someone they pull over.”

Taylor said he does question the “enforceability” of some of the provisions of the bill.

“Some of my concerns are about the legal drafting and the enforceability of it,” Taylor said. “For example, there’s a provision that requires public officials to ‘fully support the act’ and gives individuals the right to sue public officials who are not fully supporting the act. The problem is, if you bring one of those lawsuits, then what exactly do you have to prove to show that the public official is ‘not fully supporting’ the act?”

Despite drafting issues, Taylor said that “by and large,” he agrees that Alabama needed a strong measure in place as soon as possible.

“Having served in the active duty Army, I’ve lived in places like Honduras and I’ve seen the abject poverty that particularly Latin Americans come from, but I also have very good friends from those times in my life who have visited me here and they went home when their Visas expired,” Taylor said. “They followed the law and I don’t think it’s fair to penalize them by granting amnesty to thousands of illegal immigrants who didn’t come here the right way. We can’t control what the federal government does, but we can control what the state does.”

The Supreme Court, a couple of weeks ago, upheld the employer enforcement provisions of the Arizona law, which Taylor said he thinks is a good provision of the Alabama anti-illegal immigration law.

“We’ll have to see how the law works in practice and we’ll make whatever adjustments we need to make down the road,” Taylor said.