Topeka Another state, another law cracking down on illegal immigration with an assist from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on Thursday signed into law a bill that both sides of the illegal immigration issue are calling the toughest in the country, surpassing that of Arizona.
In addition to helping write the Arizona law, which caused a national furor, Kobach helped write the Alabama measure, which has re-ignited debate over how far states can go in fighting illegal immigration.
When the Alabama Legislature passed the law last week, Kobach, a Republican and constitutional attorney, said, “Alabama is now the new No. 1 state for immigration enforcement.”
The Alabama measure authorizes state and local police to ask about the immigration status of people they stop. It requires public schools to determine the citizenship status of students.
It also makes it a crime to knowingly rent housing to an illegal immigrant and requires Alabama employers to use the E-Verify database to see if their workers are citizens.
In addition, it requires immigrants to carry documentation showing their legal status and makes it a crime to transport an illegal immigrant.
And the new law copies the SAFE Act just passed in Kansas, requiring voters to show photo ID to vote and proof of citizenship to register.
“When we passed the SAFE Act in Kansas, I said it was my hope that other states would copy the Kansas model, so that elections in other states could be secured too. That hope is already becoming a reality,” Kobach said in response to news that Bentley signed into law the Alabama measure.
Critics of the SAFE Act say it will depress voter turnout among minorities and the elderly by putting up new hurdles to vote and register.
Civil rights groups say they will mount a legal challenge to the Alabama law, which is set to take effect Sept. 1.
“By signing this bill into law, Gov. Bentley is willing to sacrifice the civil liberties of all Alabamans, eroding the rights of millions of people living and working in this state,” said Olivia Turner, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama.
“This law undermines core American values of fairness and equality, subjecting both citizens and noncitizens alike to unlawful racial profiling, and does nothing to ensure the safety and economic security of Alabama,” she said.