Sen. Billy Beasley, D-Clayton, argued to his colleagues that HB56 was “an unjust law.” A majority of senators disagreed, and the repeal was defeated 20-14.
Having endured a decade’s worth of embarrassing headlines in only a year, the Alabama Statehouse remains committed to its xenophobic folly.
Of course, a supposed fear of outsiders is only one ill-considered facet of HB56. It’s just the one that fits neatly into the nation’s stereotype of Alabama as a backward and hateful place.
Another flaw is how it sets burdens on local governments; they are better known as “unfunded mandates.” Cops are turned into border patrol officers. School administrators were to be monitors of their students’ legal status until a court suspended that portion of the law. And, as The Star’s Paige Rentz reported Thursday, local governments must now jump through extra hoops to do business.
Contractors and businesses wishing to do work or sell products to state government, local governments or state-funded institutions must verify they are not employing illegal immigrants. HB56 requires those providers of goods and services must be enrolled in E-Verify, a federal government program constructed to report on the legal status of employees.
According to one reading of the law, it’s illegal for cities to make purchases from businesses that have not enrolled in E-Verify and provided a notarized affidavit swearing they aren’t employing undocumented workers.
To local cities and businesses, this part of HB56 is a hassle. Jacksonville officials told Rentz how purchases as insignificant as batteries and motor oil were delayed because vendors were either slow to certify or refused to be certified.
“What’s disturbing is we occasionally have to go outside the city to get things instead of keeping the money inside of the city,” Laura Copeland, a revenue specialist with the city of Jacksonville, told The Star. “We encourage citizens to shop Jacksonville first, and we try to do that also.”
It’s a good idea, and one made more difficult by Montgomery’s supporters of HB56. A bad idea was turning the state upside-down in order to make life more difficult for an estimated 120,000 illegal immigrants in Alabama.