Immigration law places burden on municipalities

Published 6:20 am Friday, December 9, 2011

Is it a municipality’s responsibility to enforce Alabama’s controversial immigration law?

That’s the question of the hour.

And for officials such as Troy’s Mayor Jimmy Lunsford, the answer is clear.

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He says “no.”

Lunsford and his peers around the state are grappling with the implementation of the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act. Even as the legality of the law is under scrutiny and the Attorney General’s office continues to issue new rulings and interpretations, city leaders are trying to find ways to remain in compliance with the law.

That means requiring vendors who do business with cities to complete new paperwork regarding the immigration status of their employees. It means new layers of paperwork for individuals and businesses seeking licenses to operate in the city. And, at some level, it may even mean additional identification requirements for individuals seeking specific city services such as utilities.

We’ve already seen the impact in the Pike County Probate Judge’s office, where Judge Wes Allen has worked to inform the public of additional identification requirements for such things as vehicle license tags and registration.

Many of these legal requirements seem to be unforeseen consequences of flawed legislation and point to many of the concerns opponents have raised about the law.

The Beason-Hammon act, as written, leaves too many government agencies twisting in the wind in attempts to enforce convoluted laws and requirements. It’s an added drain on already limited municipal and county resources and creates more confusion than it resolves.

But sadly, until the law is “fixed,” the burden of implementing it will fall on local government agencies.