Controversy looms over Alabama illegal immigrant bill

“Mex, get the hell out of my country,” is just one of the many signs that have been used to protest illegal immigration in Alabama.

The recently upheld law in Alabama (House Bill 56) has largely been deemed the harshest stance on immigration in the country. The law makes it a challenge to engage in routine daily activities for illegal immigrants. It is “designed to make it difficult for them to live here so they will deport themselves,” said Rep. Micky Hammon, majority leader in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Thanks to the new law, doing most ordinary things, such as getting your license, renewing your car registration, renting an apartment and driving to and from places, suddenly have the potential to turn lives upside down.

The most controversial provisions of the law make it legal to hold illegal immigrants without bond and to request immigration papers at stoplights, at time of arrest and if there’s reasonable suspicion to. It also makes it illegal to enforce contracts with them, such as leases. This could potentially leave many without places to live and also make landlords less likely to consider Hispanic tenants.

Not only is the law a burden for these immigrants, but it’s also a new, largely unfunded responsibility for state law agencies and school administrators, who could probably be using their budget to do better things.

Perhaps the most controversial and disappointing part of the law, however, is one that requires public schools to verify their students’ immigration status.

Since the law has gone into effect, thousands of Hispanic children have been missing from schools, and crops have been rotting on farms as migrant workers have left the state.

This law has created a hostile, toxic environment for undocumented workers whose children have been forced to flee, abandoning their education and their stability.

These children are innocent, many of them unknowingly brought to American soil, so their parents could make the American dream possible for them.

It’s unfair for us to punish the offspring of these illegal immigrants, who are innocent, and should remain untainted by a law that calls for tougher regulations on immigration.

The new law encourages racial profiling, and it forces teachers to take on a new role as immigration officers. Their nurturing role as educators is now threatened by a new responsibility to root out someone who looks different than them.

Afraid to send their children to school, afraid to seek medical treatment and afraid to go to work, these immigrants are now being forced to uproot their lives and find a home elsewhere.

When did America become a place where we endanger the bright future of young, innocent children?

By upholding this law, we’re perpetuating a lack of education for minorities, which isn’t helping anyone.

As for the parents of these children: Should we compromise their employment and, consequently, their income, one that supports their blameless children?

Alabama needs these migrant workers, too, whose sweat and labor do much of the farm and construction work. At a time when Alabama is working hard to rebuild their state after a devastating tornado, they need the support of these workers more than ever.

As a country, we should not allow our desire to crack down translate to insensitivity and punishment for the children of these illegal immigrants — because they deserve an education just as much as the next child.

_Nishat is a senior in LAS._