Alabama Immigrant Exodus Averted

Rep. Luis GuitterezCivil rights groups say a judge’s decision to halt part of Alabama’s
strict illegal immigration enforcement law averted a Thanksgiving
weekend exodus of Hispanics from the state.

Pictured: Rep. Luis Gutierrez speaks during an ad hoc field
hearing concerning immigration law HB56 on Monday in Birmingham, Ala.
Gutierrez is flanked by Rep. Joe Baca, from left, Mayor William Bell,
Rep. Terri Sewell, Rep. Silvestre Reyes and Rep. Al Green.

Some portions of Alabama’s law, known as HB 56
and described by supporters and critics as the harshest state
immigration law in the country, were already blocked by a federal judge.
On Wednesday, U.S.
District Judge Myron Thompson took an additional step by ordering the
state to stop denying manufactured home registration permits to people
who couldn’t prove their U.S. citizenship.

The
law forbids illegal immigrants from conducting any business
transactions with the state. State officials had interpreted that to
mean illegal immigrants couldn’t get a yearly permit for their
manufactured homes ahead of a Nov. 30 deadline and were also barred from
getting a different permit that would allow them to move their
manufactured homes on public roads.

Sam
Singh of the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center, which works to ensure
equal housing opportunies, said that situation forced many people to
abandon their properties and leave the state. But after the judge issued
a temporary restraining order — finding that the plaintiffs are likely
to win their case — residents have time to register those homes.

Alabama
Sen. Scott Beason and Rep. Micky Hammon, Republican co-sponsors of HB
56, have said that the intent of the law was to drive illegal immigrants
out of the state. Testifying in court Wednesday, Hammon said the law
was not targeted at the Hispanic population, which increased by more
than 100,000 from 2000 to 2010, and expressly forbids racial profiling.

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Source: Alan Gomez, USA TODAY