Gov. defends immigration law

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Governor Robert Bentley reiterated his support for the immigration law today.

In a brief public appearance outside the Alabama Capitol, Governor Bentley declared, "We are not repealing it."

Earlier in the day, the governor had released a statement with the Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard and President Pro-Tempore of the Senate Del Marsh saying the law will not be repealed but that they were open to changes that wouldn't weaken it.

However when the governor was pressed by a reporter about possible changes to the law, Governor Bentley said, "There were unintended consequences."

The governor did not say what specifically in the law had led to the unintended consequences but said the immigration law, as with any piece of legislation, from time to time requires additional examination and possibly even revision.

"You know you just need to go back and look at it and you just say you know, if things are not working the way that we want it to, we need to change it" Gov. Bentley said.

Governor Bentley was explicit and said Friday's statement wasn't related to proposed changes made by Attorney Luther Strange on Dec.1 in a memo to lawmakers.

Attorney General Strange had proposed changing and deleting language from the law as well as even repealing certain sections. In particular Strange recommended repealing the section that required local law enforcement to hold someone who is in the country illegally until federal authorities arrive. Strange argued in his memo that the provision didn't align with Alabama law.

He also recommended repealing the sections requiring public schools to check the citizenship status of newly enrolled students and the one requiring that everyone carry registration papers or documents that can prove citizenship.

Federal judges have blocked those two sections from going into effect.

Gov. Bentley said "Many of the things that he has talked about really overlap with some of the things that we had already discussed and we had been working on this really for months ever since we started to enforce this law."

The governor said he will consider the changes Strange has proposed. He also remarked that Strange has a stake in the immigration debate since he will be the one defending the law in court.

Bentley said he understood that Strange made his suggestions in order to make the law more defensible in court.

The governor also used Friday's announcement as another opportunity to attempt to reassure international companies in Alabama, as well as those considering Alabama as a location, that the state is open for business.

"We want companies especially international companies to understand that things have not changed" Gov. Bentley said. "We're going to still continue to recruit industry from other countries and we want them to know that they are going to continue to be welcome."

The governor said he has not heard from any company that they have decided against locating in Alabama because of its immigration law.

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