Alabama HB 56

Alabama HB 56

Alabama HB 56, titled the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act,[1] is an anti-illegal immigration bill, signed into law in the U.S. state of Alabama in June 2011. As of 2011, it is regarded as the nation's strictest anti-illegal immigration law, tougher than Arizona SB 1070.[2]

The law, written in large part by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach,[3][4] and cosponsored by Alabama Representative Micky Hammon and Alabama State Senator Scott Beason,[5] was passed by the Alabama House of Representatives and Alabama Senate with widespread legislative support.[6] It was then signed into law on June 9, 2011, by Governor Robert J. Bentley.[6]


  • Provisions 1
  • Legal challenges to the law 2
  • Impact 3
  • Calls for revisions 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The Alabama law requires that if police have "reasonable suspicion" that a person is an immigrant unlawfully present in the United States, in the midst of any legal stop, detention or arrest, to make a similarly reasonable attempt to determine that person's legal status. An exemption is provided if such action would hinder an official investigation of some kind.[2]

The law prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving any public benefits at either the state or local level. It bars illegal immigrants from attending publicly owned colleges or universities [currently blocked[7]]. At the high, middle, and elementary public school levels, the law requires that school officials ascertain whether students are illegal immigrants. Attendance is not prohibited for such students; school districts are mandated to submit annual tallies on the suspected number of illegal immigrants when making report to state education officials.[2][8]

The law prohibits the transporting or harboring of illegal immigrants [currently blocked[7]]. It prohibits landlords from renting property to illegal immigrants. It forbids employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants for any job within Alabama. Moreover, it considers as a discriminatory practice any action to refuse to employ or remove a legal resident of the state when an illegal one is already employed [currently blocked[7]]. The law requires large and small businesses to validate the immigration status of employees using the US E-Verify program. The law prohibits illegal immigrants from applying for work.[currently blocked[7]][2]

The production of false identification documents is considered a crime. Contracts formed in which one party is an illegal immigrant and the other has direct knowledge of that are deemed null and void. The law also requires voters to provide proof of citizenship when registering.[2]

Legal challenges to the law

The law was originally scheduled to take effect on September 1, 2011, but legal actions were taken against it by the Obama administration, some religious groups and some immigrant-rights groups, all making claims that the law was unconstitutional.[8]

On August 29, 2011, U.S. Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn, sitting for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, temporarily blocked enforcement of the law, saying she needed more time to study the case.[8] On September 28, 2011, Judge Blackburn gave the green light to key parts of the law.[7]

Less than a month after the bill was signed into law, the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA) filed the case Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama v. Bentley challenging HB 56 on the grounds that various provisions of the act, and the entire law as a whole, are preempted by federal law, and are therefore illegal.[9] HICA was only the first to file such a claim, followed by the United States Department of Justice with the suit United States v. Alabama and a group of Alabama Church Leaders with Parsley v. Bentley.[9] After the U.S. Department of Justice and a coalition of groups including the ACLU appealed that ruling, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on October 14, 2011, again put several key provisions on hold until the issues of constitutionality could be addressed, including the requirement on schools to collect information on enrolling students' immigration status. Other provisions, such as those making contracts with undocumented aliens null and void, were left to stand.[10][11]

U.S. Judge Myron Herbert Thompson, sitting for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, blocked an additional portion of the law on November 23, 2011, that prevented undocumented immigrants from obtaining certain mobile home registrations.[5] In a further December 12, 2011, ruling, Thompson attacked the history behind the law, describing the legislative debate as having been "laced with derogatory comments about Hispanics." He said it was likely that the entire law was "discriminatorily based" and that lawmakers employed ethnic stereotypes and used the terms "Hispanic" and "illegal immigrant" interchangeably. He accused State Representative Hammon of having misused a news article to justify a claim that Alabama was home to the second fastest growing population of undocumented immigrants in the nation.[12][13]

On August 20, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit partially invalidated HB 56.


Once the federal ruling of September 29, 2011, upholding most of the law went into effect, several Alabama school districts reported a significant drop in the number of Hispanic children attending public schools. State and local officials urged immigrants to keep their children in the schools, saying the law does not bar them from attending.[14]

Industries dependent on migrant labor have been strongly impacted. Farmers have found that Americans are not willing to work under such harsh working conditions for low pay.[15] Some businesses in other industries have lost workers, including legal workers, as a result of the new immigration law.[16]

Latino women have been particularly negatively impacted by HB 56, making it even more difficult for them to report domestic abuse or seek refuge in the court system when being victimized. Recently, a victim of domestic violence went to the courthouse seeking a protection from abuse order so that she could distance herself from her abuser. The clerk informed her that if she proceeded with the case she would be reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).[17] Another example of how HB 56 is deterring women from reporting crimes or seeking help is an Alabama judge who “said he might have to report to ICE any person who asks for an interpreter because such a request would be a red flag”.[18] Being the strictest anti-illegal immigration law to date, under HB 56 “undocumented persons are unable to interact with the government in any way and for any purpose,” effectively making an entire class of people into “non-persons” in the eyes of the law.[18]

On November 18, 2011, a German Mercedes-Benz executive was arrested for not having proper documentation on him while on business in Alabama, having left his passport at the hotel where he was staying and carrying only his German identity card.[19] On December 2, 2011, a Japanese Honda executive was stopped in Leeds, Alabama, at a checkpoint set up by police to catch unlicenced drivers. He was ticketed on the spot, despite the fact that he showed an International Driving Permit, a valid passport and a U.S. work permit.[20]

On December 18, 2011, it was reported that Alabama's unemployment rate had fallen from 9.2 percent to 8.7 percent. Supporters credited the immigration law for the decrease.[21] However, Ahmad Ijaz, Director of Economic Forecasting at the University of Alabama, found that the majority of job growth in 2011 was in the automotive sector – an area of the economy where undocumented workers were uncommon. Ijaz attributed a rise in employment to the retail growth during holiday sales. Contrary to expectation, there was no job growth in sectors where Latinos typically work – construction, agriculture, and poultry processing.[22]

Calls for revisions

On December 5, 2011, Attorney General of Alabama Luther Strange recommended repealing several parts of the law: the provision requiring collection of the immigration status of public school students, the provision requiring immigrants to always carry alien registration cards, and the allowance of lawsuits by state citizens who do not believe public officials are enforcing the law.[23] Strange said the proposed changes would make the law "easier to defend in court" and "remove burdens on law-abiding citizens".

See also


  1. ^ Official text of HB 56 from the Alabama State Legislature
  2. ^ a b c d e Fausset, Richard (June 10, 2011). "Alabama enacts anti-illegal-immigration law described as nation's strictest".  
  3. ^ Preston, Julia (June 3, 2011). "In Alabama, a Harsh Bill for Residents Here Illegally".  
  4. ^ Talbot, George (October 16, 2011). "Kris Kobach, the Kansas lawyer behind Alabama's immigration law".  
  5. ^ a b Braun, Melissa (November 30, 2011). "Immigration law faces new challenge".  
  6. ^ a b Gargis, Peggy (June 9, 2011). "Alabama sets nation's toughest immigration law".  
  7. ^ a b c d e Gargis, Peggy (September 28, 2011). "Judge lets key parts of Alabama immigration law stand".  
  8. ^ a b c "Federal Judge Blocks Alabama Illegal Immigration Law – For Now". Fox News.  
  9. ^ a b "Alabama Immigration Law: Act No. 2011-535.". Attorney General Luther Strange: State of Alabama. (. Retrieved February 23, 2012. 
  10. ^ Lyman, Brian (October 14, 2011). "Federal appeals court blocks parts of immigration law".  
  11. ^ Belczyk, Jaclyn (October 14, 2011). "Federal appeals court blocks Alabama immigration law".  
  12. ^ Bauer, Mary (December 14, 2011). "Court Cites Discriminatory Intent Behind Alabama's Anti-Immigrant Law".  
  13. ^ "Immigration law faces new challenge".  
  14. ^ "Alabama: Many Immigrants Pull Children From Schools".  
  15. ^ Caldwell, Alicia A.; Reeves, Jay (October 20, 2011). "Few Americans take immigrants' jobs in Alabama". MSNBC.  
  16. ^ Roy L. Williams (October 12, 2011). "Alabama restaurant owners say some legal Hispanic workers are leaving as a result of the new immigration law". The Birmingham News.
  17. ^ Lucy, William. "Crisis in Alabama: Investigating the Devastating Effects of HB 56.". AFL-CIO. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Bauer, Mary. "Testimony Before Congressional Ad Hoc HB56 Hearing". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Mercedes-Benz manager from Germany arrested under Alabama’s strict new immigration law".  
  20. ^ Pilkington, Ed (December 2, 2011). "Alabama red-faced as second foreign car boss held under immigration law".  
  21. ^ Neil Munro (December 18, 2011). "Alabama jobless rate falls amid immigration reform".  
  22. ^ Jack Hitt (January 27, 2012). "Reap What You Sow".  
  23. ^ Foley, Elise (December 6, 2011). "Alabama AG Luther Strange Recommends Repealing Parts Of State Immigration Law".  

External links

  • Text of Alabama HB 56 (pdf)
  • Text of Alabama HB 56 (html)