Immigration law forces changes at city level

Published 10:55 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Effects of Alabama’s anti-illegal immigrant law, touted by state officials as the toughest in the nation, have trickled down to Troy.

This week, vendors who do business with the City of Troy will be receiving notice from the city clerk’s office that they’ll have to provide proof of citizenship or national status and sign an affidavit stating the company only staffs people who are in the country legally in order to continue the business relationship. By signing the affidavit, the company also pledges to use the E-verify program to register all new hires. This documentation will take the place of the W-9 form the city previously required.

Click here to see the city clerk’s letter to vendors.
Click here to see the new form required.

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The city is obligated to obtain this information and keep it on file in order to comply with the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act. Failure to return documents to the city by Jan. 1, 2012, will prevent vendors from entering into future contracts with the city.

Gathering all the appropriate information is a big undertaking. From Abbeville to Zion, Ill., there are about 1,360 vendors the city must approach for affidavits.

“Not having these affidavits on file could jeopardize our ability to get grants in the future,” said City Clerk Alton Starling.

Next week, businesses within the city limits of Troy will receive their business license renewal information, which will also call for business owners to certify they are a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant. Businesses will not have to E-verify their employees to renew their business licenses.

While the paperwork is fairly simple, Starling understands that vendors and businesses in Troy may be confused by the verification process or documents needed, but he said the city is being pro-active and preparing for an influx of questions and calls.

“We’re going to do the best we can,” Starling said. “This is a constantly evolving process that we are trying to comply with.”

The changing face of the legislation has Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford wondering if the city isn’t moving too quickly to meet the terms of the Beason-Hammon Act.

“This bill was hastily passed and wasn’t well thought out and it has put an undue burden on the cities and counties,” Lunsford said. “Frankly, it’s my position that the burden should not be put on municipalities to enforce legislation.”

Lunsford said he’s of the opinion that the city’s responsibility may further change in the coming weeks, citing two recent Attorney General opinions regarding the Act and one section of the law already struck down by the court.

“This thing has really concerned me from day one. We may be overreacting and moving too quickly,” Lunsford said. “We need to proceed with caution.”

The City of Brundidge is proceeding much the same as Troy, with basic vendor and business license paperwork.

“We’re not forging ahead at a fast pace,” said City Manager Britt Thomas. “We’re going to let everything shake out and try to comply with the law at the same time.”

Jim Jackson, manager of Bill Jackson Chevrolet, said he isn’t worried about an extra step filling out the company’s paperwork for the coming year.

“It’s not a problem,” Jackson said. “It’s required for me elsewhere, so the city is just one more place I’ll have to fill out the form.”

Jackson said his company, which is both a Troy city business and vendor, has been staying abreast of the requirements to comply with the Beason-Hammond Act. Employees at the auto dealership have attended seminars and taken courses of the last several months to be certain they were prepared to operate within Alabama’s law.

“I really don’t think it will have that big of an effect on me and how we do business,” Jackson said.