Alabama's controversial new immigration law [HB 56; JURIST news archive] is resulting in human rights violations [press release], Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported Wednesday. In the 52-page report [materials], "No Way to Live: Alabama's Immigrant Law," HRW claims that the law is denying immigrants equal protection under the law as well as access to basic necessities such as water, electricity and housing. HRW argues that children have been particularly affected. According to the report:
The initial human impact has been devastating, though the full consequences remain unclear. A group of people have found themselves unable to live the lives they had lived for many years. Some were barred from access to basic services like water, and many more were told they could not live in homes they own. The interpretation of some provisions continues to be modified by state officials or enjoined by the courts, but other provisions still deny unauthorized immigrants equal protection of the law. This has already discouraged some from reporting crimes and wage theft. Particularly hard hit have been the children of unauthorized immigrants, an especially vulnerable population, including the many who are US citizens. Legislators contend that these are "unintended consequences" of the legislation, but the proponents of the Alabama law made clear from the start their intention to make it impossible for unauthorized immigrants to live in the state.HRW recommends an immediate repeal of the law and for the US Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform.
Last week, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley [official website] announced that he would work with lawmakers to make the law more effective [JURIST report]. Bentley assured that there were no plans to repeal the law, even with pending challenges [JURIST report] from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website]. Earlier this month Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange [official website] suggested repealing specific provisions [JURIST report] of the state's controversial immigration law which criminalize the failure of illegal immigrants to carry registration documents and require public schools to collect information regarding the immigration status of their students. Both these provisions were temporarily blocked [JURIST report] in October by the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website]. Alabama's immigration law is only one of the immigration measures [JURIST news archive] currently being challenged by the DOJ, American Civil Liberties Union and others.