Ala. passes tough immigration law; challenges promised

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed a tough new law cracking down on illegal immigration and immediately drew the ire of some organizations including the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center.

House Bill 56, signed Thursday, allows police to arrest anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant if they're stopped for any other reason.

It also requires public schools to determine students' immigration status and makes it a crime to knowingly give an illegal immigrant a ride.

Alabama employers are now required to determine if any new worker is in the country legally.

SPLC called the law a "costly trap" that follows Arizona's controversial immigration bill and vowed to challenge it in court. "This law will set back years of progress Alabama has made on civil rights, and will also prove economically devastating for Alabama," said Sam Brooke of SPLC.

Bentley, a Republican, says he campaigned on passing the toughest anti-illegal immigration bill possible. He's more confident of the law's legality, predicting it will pass court review.

Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center agree the new law is the nation's toughest, but that it's toughness is not a good thing.

Copyright 2011 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.