Wednesday, April 4, 2012
BILL TO AMEND ALABAMA'S IMMIGRATION LAW INTRODUCED TODAY
On April 5, 2012, House Bill 658 was introduced in the Alabama House of Representatives by Representative Mickey Hammon to make changes to HB 56, last year's strict immigration law. Numerous important changes are proposed. This Alert sets forth several of the changes that are expected, however, the new legislation is lengthy, and space prohibits a detailed explanation of all the proposed amendments.
The following proposed amendments are included in the bill:
- Several changes to the definition section are anticipated to ensure the Act only applies to business entities and employers that employ a person within the State of Alabama. The provisions allowing citizen suits against state officials for failing to fully enforce the immigration law are removed. Under the new version of the law, citizens are required to file a petition (under oath and under penalty of perjury) with a local district attorney or the Attorney General. Additionally, persons working for the state are required to report violations only if the person has knowledge of a violation.
- The State and local public benefits section is modified, to state that only those agencies and political subdivisions that both fund and administer a state or local public benefit are required to verify lawful presence of aliens who apply for such benefits. Under the proposed changes, the requirement for a governmental agency to verify lawful presence for a commercial or professional license would apply only to the issuance of a license, but not to its renewal.
- Perhaps most important, the primary sections that apply to employers (section 9, which applies to businesses with government contractors, and Section 15, which applies to all employers) are modified in significant ways. First, as noted above, the proposed changes would clarify that the law applies only to those hired or employed within the State of Alabama. Second, the penalty provisions for violations of Section 9 and Section 15 would be amended. Previously, a violation of either section required the suspension of a company's business licenses - automatically. Under the proposed amendment, a court may decide not to suspend a business entity or employer’s permits and licenses if it makes a determination that such a suspension would not be in the best interest of the public.
- Business entities and employers who conduct business with the state, county and municipal governments would no longer be required to provide a sworn affidavit of compliance with the law - although they would still be required to provide documentation of their enrollment in E-Verify. Primary contractors would also no longer be required to obtain sworn affidavits from subcontractors.
- Other sections which are currently enjoined by the courts are also amended. The “Stop and Ask” provision limits law enforcement to verifying citizenship and lawful status to situations involving either issuance of traffic citation or lawful arrest. The bill proposes that law enforcement be authorized to determine citizenship and immigration status of persons in the same automobile as the person who was lawfully arrested or issued a traffic citation.
- In response to a direct challenge by religious organizations, the bill adds an exemption to the prohibition on harboring, concealing and shielding from detection aliens unlawfully present. Bona fide nonprofit religious organizations, and their agents or officers, may encourage, invite, call, allow, and enable an alien present in the United States to perform the vocation of a minister or missionary as a volunteer.
- The bill changes the section that allows a United States citizen or alien lawfully present to bring a lawsuit against employers for unlawful employment practices; It would add a causation requirement (this section is currently enjoined and not in effect). The bill requires a person seeking to bring an unlawful employment practice against an employer to prove that the employer intended to discriminate against the person because of the unauthorized alien’s status. A legitimate business reason defense for business entities and employers is also added. An additional change makes it a Class C misdemeanor to knowingly file a false or frivolous complaint against a business entity or employer.
- Section 30 of last year's legislation prohibited business transactions between the government and a person not lawfully present. In HB658, business transactions only include: 1) applying for a motor vehicle license plate; 2) applying for a driver’s license or nondriver identification card; and 3) applying for a business license. All references to requiring verification for renewing licenses are removed. If you have any questions or would like more information regarding this legislation, please contact:
This Client Alert is for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. For more information or an explanation about the matters discussed in this Alert, please contact one of the attorneys listed above.