Policy: Immigration

Agreement doesn't worry Alabama immigration law backers

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Associated Press,Immigration,Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Lawmakers who led the effort to pass Alabama's toughest-in-the-nation law targeting illegal immigration said they aren't concerned some parts were thrown out by a settlement between the state and a coalition of advocacy groups.

Some leaders of the efforts said Wednesday they won't oppose the settlement that eliminates some sections that have been ruled unconstitutional while leaving some major provisions intact.

The law's sponsor in the House, Republican Rep. Micky Hammon of Decatur, said he considers it a victory for taxpayers because it retains the right of law enforcement to detain those in Alabama illegally.

"As a result of this settlement, Alabama's borders are more secure, our taxpayer dollars are more protected, and Alabamians have given strong notice to those who break our laws with their simple presence," Hammon said.

Hammon, who chairs the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, noted that only six of the statute's 30 provisions were blocked from implementation and said:

"Alabama is once again the last line of defense against a weak-kneed president and a liberal administration who refuse to enforce the federal laws they were sworn to uphold. If federal officials would step up to the plate and do their job, laws like the one put firmly on Alabama's books today would not be needed in the first place."

A supporter of the new immigration law in the Senate, Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, said the settlement does provide "some sense of closure" but said he needs to study it some more before deciding if something further needs to be done.

Jeremy King, director of communication for Gov Robert Bentley, said the law is still intact.

"The essence of Alabama's immigration law is that if you live or work in Alabama, you should do so legally, and that has not changed," King said.

On the other side, ACLU lawyer Cecilia Wang said the Alabama agreement means a so-called "show me your papers" provision that allowed police to ask for citizenship documents cannot lead to detentions, as many immigrants had feared.

"Overall this is really a significant win for immigrant families in Alabama and anyone who cares about the rights of immigrants," said Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrant Rights Project.

The agreement permanently blocks sections of the law that were temporarily stopped by courts. The state also agreed to pay $350,000 in attorney fees and expenses for groups that sued to block the law.

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