On Monday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down key portions of what has been called the toughest immigration law in the country, Alabama House Bill 56(HB 56). or The "Hammon-Beason Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act". HB 56 mandated that public schools check the immigration status of new students, and the 11th Circuit found that provision to be unconstitutional. In particular, it found that it violated the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. From the Montgomery Advertiser article:
The court said the provision "significantly interferes" with the right to a public education, saying it "targets the population of undocumented school children in Alabama."Keep in mind that HB 56 was mainly written by the same architect of the infamous Arizona Senate Bill 1070(S.B 1070), Kansas Secratary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach is also an "informal adviser" or an adviser to Willard Mitt Romney depending on whom you ask, and Kobach is also the guy who this week helped to strike down a Republican plank to repeal DOMA by comparing LBGT people to polygamists(Willard's dad was born in a polygamist commune) and drug users (Obligatory Rush Limbaugh reference). Not coincidentally, the Republicans also passed an anti-immigration plank that included completing a 2,000 miles plus border fence, nationalizing "show me your papers" laws like S.B 1070 and H.B 56 and denying federal funds to colleges that allow young undocumented people to pay in-state tuition. Yes, Kobach was influential in that too. I am surprised that nobody has posted a diary about the Republican anti-immigrant plank yet.
Sections requiring aliens to carry identification and banning contracts with the unlawfully present were also blocked. On the contracts provision -- originally labeled Section 27 -- the court wrote that the end goal of the section was "forcing undocumented individuals out of Alabama."
To say that section 27 is extraordinary and unprecedented would be an understatement, as it imposes a statutory disability typically reserved for those who are so incapable as to render their contracts void or voidable," the court wrote. "Essentially, the ability to maintain even a minimal existence is no longer an option for unlawfully present aliens in Alabama."
Getting back to analysis of the 11th Circuit's decision, Think Progress has a little primer for us.
– School officials cannot ask about students’ immigration status: Under HB 56, schools were required to determine the immigration status of every newly enrolled student. As a result, students stayed home from school once the provision went into effect in late September out of confusion over the law and fear that they or their parents could be deported. By February, 13 percent of Latino students dropped out by February as families fled Alabama because of the immigration policy.You can already see connections between Kobach, Romney's "self deport" rhetoric during the primary, and some of the effects that Alabama's law intended to have. Institutional harassment of students over status that they are not at fault for is not something that should be put into our laws, and I am glad for the 11th Circuit striking down that portion of the law. I also abhor the idea of school officials being forced to profile students because of their accents, or even just because they have a certain look.
The New York Times also saw the conenction to the "self deport" rhetoric.
When Alabama’s immigration law was passed in the spring of 2011, it was the boldest test yet of the doctrine of self-deportation. If the state put up legal obstacles to nearly every aspect of illegal immigrants’ lives, as a chief sponsor of the law put it at the time, it would “make their lives difficult and they will deport themselves.”I have no doubt given the Republican plank on this issue, and Romney's own words, and the fact that the Tea Party would not let Romney let this drop if he were President, and Kobach would likely be Romney's "immigration czar" in a Romney administration. All in all, a lot of reason if you believe in a humane approach to immigration reform Barack Obama is the only choice for President.
The Times continues
While other states had levied sanctions against employers and empowered the police to check for citizenship status, Alabama’s law staked out new territory, shutting off access for those in the state illegally to virtually every facet of regulated life, from water utilities to rental agreements to dog tags.Is it just me, or does this seem rather reminiscent of some of the old practices of the South to another minority in the "Jim Crow" days?
Going back to other parts of the law that had been struck down(and another separate court decision too), Think Progress told us this:
Additionally, the 11th Circuit stopped Alabama and Georgia from making it a crime to transport or harbor an undocumented immigrant in those states. Both states included these provisions in their similar anti-immigrant laws approved by state legislators more than a year ago. Arizona’s SB 1070 also makes its a crime to harbor or transport someone who is not a legal resident, but the Supreme Court did not rule on it. Today, a civil rights coalition is asking a federal judge in Arizona to block this section of SB 1070 especially now that it has been struck down in Alabama and Georgia.Anything that further blocks SB 1070 is welcome news to me, and I am sure to immigrant advocates throughout the country.
In somewhat related news in that, HB 56 probably was responsbile for this response. The Washington Post reports that the Department of Justice(DOJ) has set up its first civil rights unit in Alabama.
“This is about sustainability ... of civil rights enforcement,” Perez said during a news conference held at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.I applaud this move by the DOJ. The Republicans have shown themselves this year by their blatant voter suppression moves in Ohio, and their strict photo Voter ID law in Pennsylvania as well as their shady moves in Florida that they are willing to trample on civil rights to stay in power. Obviously, their hateful rhetoric and language ought not be thoughtlessly used here. This is one reason why I always refer to people who are "out of status" for whatever reason as "undocumented" and I never refer to people as "illegal". You can see examples of what the Republicans mean by their "self-deport" rhetoric in Alabama, and I hope that my fellow Kossacks will help in pushing back against the GOP's anti-immigrant rhetoric and their agenda.
Birmingham is the eighth U.S. city out of 94 with U.S. attorney offices to have a civil rights unit. The nearest similar unit is in Memphis, Tenn.
U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said the department’s work investigating effects of the immigration law resulted in new relationships in Alabama between government attorneys and the public and the realization that more work was needed on civil rights oversight.
“We rounded out our affiliations with members of the civil rights community,” she said.