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How Much Alabama’s HB 56 Tough Immigration Law Costs

The South again. Today, Alabama joined Arizona and Georgia with anti-immigrant copycat laws. But Alabama’s HB 56 is like Arizona on steroids. Signed today by Gov. Robert Bentley, this law goes into effect by January 2012; if not challenged by civil rights and immigrant organizations.

Alabama's Flag

Is Alamaba's flag coincidentally reminiscent of the Red Cross (or a white flag of surrender)?

HB 56 is more than a “papers, please” bill. Enrolling to college (even if paying tuition), renting a house, applying for a job or claiming unpaid salaries will become crimes if you are an undocumented immigrant in Alabama.

Primary and secondary schools will be required to check children’s immigration status as well as that of their parents. Schools will have to publish the total number of enrolled immigrants, regardless of status, and report to taxpayers any costs generated by immigrant students.

It also forbids people from hiring, sheltering, renting property or giving a ride to undocumented immigrants (It will be still OK to talk to or shake hands with an undocumented immigrant). Employers are obligated to use the federal program E-Verify to check employee and new hire immigration status.

2.8% of Alabama population is immigrant (legal and undocumented) but they constitute almost 4% of the state’s workforce. Undocumented workers are believed to be 95% of the immigrant workforce. There are also 2,524 Latino-owned and 4,270 Asian-owned businesses in Alabama, according to the Immigration Policy Center. Because of those figures, Alabama would lose $2.6 billion in economic activity and approximately 17,819 jobs if all undocumented, according to a report from the Perryman Group.

The law’s sponsors, Sen. Scott Beason and Rep. Micky Hammon, said “This is a jobs-creation bill for Americans.”  However, they did not explain how much it will cost the state.

The cost of Alabama’s HB 56 Immigration Law

  • • Schools will add some paperwork to report about their students and their parents’ immigration status.
  • • Local and state police forces will spend time and money to learn which documents prove f legal residency and how to avoid racial profiling and discrimination complaints.
  • • Landlords and universities will stop receiving money (rent or tuition) from immigrants.
  • • The state will spend millions to defend this law against discrimination claims in the Supreme Court.
  • • Latin American governments such as Mexico will probably cancel meetings and conventions in Alabama and warn their citizens to stay away from Alabama.
  • • Foreign universities and institutions could stop exchange agreements with Alabama universities and even stop funding studies in the states institutions.
  • • Some businesses that cater minorities will close down if immigrants leave Alabama in large numbers.
  • • Opponents to Arizona style bills say that they create fear among immigrant communities who will be less likely to report crimes to authorities. Therefore, more crimes will go unreported.