Taylor: Lawsuit wrongly targets law

Published 9:02 am Saturday, July 9, 2011

State Sen. Bryan Taylor isn’t surprised by a lawsuit filed against the state over its new immigration law.

Taylor, R-Prattville,

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and a coalition of civil rights groups filed a class-action lawsuit Friday challenging HB56, the controversial anti-immigrantion law.

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Opponents of the state law have labeled it “draconian,” saying it is much harsher than the Arizona immigration law that inspired it. Taylor said those who oppose the law have lost sight of the fact the legislation is an “anti-illegal immigration” measure and not an “anti-immigrant” measure as touted by opponents of the bill.

“I think it’s important to realize that the vast majority of this bill simply refers to already existing federal law. It’s currently illegal to hire somebody who is in this country unlawfully, it is illegal for an undocumented alien to receive public benefits like Medicaid and unemployment compensation, but the federal government is not doing its job in enforcing the law,” Taylor said. “This is not an ‘anti-immigrant’ measure, but a ‘pro-rule-of-law’ measure.”

The lawsuit will bring into question the constitutionality of the legislation as opponents allege that HB56 “unlawfully interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters, in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution; subjects Alabamians — including countless U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents — to unlawful search and seizure, in violation of the Fourth Amendment; unlawfully deters immigrant families from enrolling their children in public schools; unconstitutionally bars many lawfully present immigrants from attending public colleges or universities in Alabama; and drastically restricts the right to enter into contracts.”

Mary Bauer, legal director of the SPLC, said the state’s immigration law essentially resurrects Alabama’s checkered past regarding race relations.

“We have filed this lawsuit today because Alabama’s immigration law is blatantly unconstitutional,” Bauer said in a press release. “This law revisits the state’s painful racial past and tramples the rights of all Alabama residents. It should never become the law of the land.”

The coalition behind the lawsuit is composed of the SPLC, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Alabama, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian Law Caucus and the Asian American Justice Center.

Cecilia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, weighed in on the issue underlying the purpose for legal action.

Taylor said the ACLU and the FDLC, when they can’t win in the court of public opinion, try and get unelected federal judges to undo what the people’s elected representatives have put in place.

“What happened to Arizona’s e-Verify law is the Nin Circuit Court of Appeals struck it down, it went up to the Supreme Court and they said, ‘no, this is perfectly legitimate,’ it was perfectly constitutional and they overturned the court of appeals. All of these folks who are saying that the federal courts are striking these laws down must not count the Supreme Court.”

Taylor said the real issue is that “we have a broken immigration system at the federal level and a federal government that refuses to enforce its own law.”

“The gist of this bill is that we are going to require state and local officials to support and enforce the federal immigration law,” Taylor said.

For Taylor, the question of whether illegal immigrants are “taking jobs away from Americans, specifically Alabamians,” remains to be seen.

“I think we’ll see, as this law goes into effect, whether it helps encourage employers to hire legal workers instead of illegal workers. I think it will. It finally puts real penalties in place and we’ll just have to wait and see if it ultimately helps bring the unemployment rate down,” Taylor said. “In an economy like this, we need to be doing everything we can to make sure that available jobs are going to Americans and legal residents—people who want to come here legally.”

… “I hope that the end result is that as more and more states begin to take on this challenge, it will give our federal government the political will to fix the system.”