Alabama has become the latest battleground in the knock-down, drag-out fight between federal and state authorities over who owns the right to put a stop to illegal immigration. With the Justice Department's recent decision to take the Cotton State to court over its newly minted anti-immigration law, Alabama joins Arizona in the national spotlight as a state that’s fed up with Washington’s inability to enact comprehensive immigration reform and that has finally decided to take matters into its own legislative hands.
Billed as the “toughest” law in the nation, Alabama’s measure requires verification of students’ immigration status, provides sanctions for businesses that knowingly employ uncertified workers, and makes it a crime to intentionally provide transportation and housing to the undocumented. Critics charge that the law is too broad and is draconian, while backers hail it as overdue and “good for Alabama.”
Regardless of whether the law — which raises questions about just who’s trying to break into Alabama anyway — ends up being a boon or bane for the state, one thing is clear: Federal dithering on immigration and Obama’s schizophrenic approach have led states to assume the mantle of defending our borders. In turn, states have produced a hodgepodge of inconsistent laws that fail to completely address the issue and that could make it a crime by law to even take an undocumented friend to the store or allow a friend to spend the night on a couch.
Obama’s approach has come under fire from reformers like Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-lll.P) who was arrested outside of the White House last month protesting the deportation of those who would qualify to remain in the country if Congress would give the green light to long-stalled reforms like those outlined in the DREAM Act.
Obama says he supports immigration reform, but his administration has booted more people from the country than his predecessor. Deportations have reached record highs under his watch and in some cases have more than doubled. Officials insist the dragnet is intended to catch serious criminals, but law enforcement officials continue to deport those found guilty of minor infractions.
If Obama truly supports immigrant families, he must enact a moratorium on deporting illegal immigrants from the U.S. who have not committed more serious offenses. Otherwise, he is guilty of a dual-personality approach to immigration (not unlike the Beyonce/Sasha Fierce, Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, and Sacha Baron Cohen/Ali G. personalities that dominate popular culture) where he espouses reform but deports illegal immigrants in record-high numbers.
Photo Credit: Nevele Otseog