While the news of Occupy Wall Street is grabbing media attention, it is important not to lose sight of what is happening in Alabama. Effective last month, Alabama law requires immigrants to carry specific documentation and unfairly empowers police to stop anyone, anytime, for any reason, and ask about their immigration status. As NPR has accurately said, this unjust legislation is now “the strongest immigration law in the country.”
This Alabama law is causing thousands of immigrants to flee from their homes, places of work, and schools for fear of deportation. It’s not only police asking for documentation – employers, school teachers and landlords are now racially profiling individuals and asking for this documentation as well, increasing immigrants’ level of fear in going about their everyday lives.
As early as next year, Alabama state law will require employers to use a system under the Department of Homeland Security to verify the immigration status of all employees. Schools will also see a void as immigrant children are forced to give up their right to an education. Deportations are growing in number by the day, affecting 396,906 people in the last fiscal year, and making this one of the largest deportations in history.
With so many economic and humanitarian implications to consider, as farmers and laborers abandon their fields and store fronts and families flee the state, you have to ask: what price is our nation paying for this law?