Concerns about immigration bill's cost, legality

Posted by Samuel King - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The State Senate must now consider a sweeping bill targeting illegal immigration in Alabama. At the same time, some groups are concerned about the potential cost of the bill, and whether it can be enforced.

The bill passed the State House overwhelmingly Tuesday, and touches almost every aspect of life.

"The intention is it would make it difficult for illegal immigrants to live here," said Rep. Micky Hammon, of Decatur.  "And they would deport themselves and we would have attrition and we would open up more jobs."

Montgomery County Sheriff D.T. Marshall supports the bill in principle.

"I'm like most people, I don't think people should come to the country, I don't think most people should come to the country illegally," Marshall said.

But many law enforcement officers across the state worry about how they would enforce the law.

Certain measures, like the enforcement of immigration laws related to employers, would fall partly to local law enforcement.  And local jails would have to house suspected undocumented immigrants until federal agents arrive.

"Everybody wants us to do everything," Marshall said.  "Sex offenders are a good example, we have people full time on it, we don't have the manpower to deal with it, but we make it.  Now they're trying to add this to our caseload, we don't have the manpower, nor do we have the money to hire people to handle it."

Marshall said it the bill becomes law, his department will enforce it.

Zayne Smith with the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice said the bill would cost state and local government millions at a time when budgets are tight.

"It's legally unsound, it's very unconstitutional, many parts of this law wouldn't withhold muster in a court of law," Smith said.

Lawmakers seem willing to take that risk, when many in the state are in support of the bill.

"I think there's too many coming over here," said Joe Davis, of Montgomery.  "So I think there need to be some kind of regulation.  A lot of immigrants work for what they're worth, but there has to be some sort of stopping point here."

A State Senate committee will take up the bill next week.  It would have to be passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor to go into effect.

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