Over at the War Room Justin Elliot delves into the chilling police state powers that the new Alabama immigration bill adds beyond the “papers please!” clause that we saw in the Arizona Immigration bill. It continues to amaze me that the same people who sympathize with the sovereign citizen movement and who would absolutely bristle at the idea of a national identification card also back giving their state authorities sweeping police state powers. The dissonance is strong with them.
The twist is a provision in the Alabama law that requires schools to determine and verify immigration status of any student who is enrolling and any parent of students who are enrolling. The bill’s backers are saying that this is constitutional because they are not turning people away from schools. The schools are not supposed to turn people away, but they are required to collect this data and to report it to the Legislature. This is clearly in violation of existing Supreme Court precedent, because it will in fact have a chilling effect on immigrant children enrolling in school.
There’s also a prohibition on renting in the law. It is a crime for a landlord to rent an apartment if they knew or should have known that the tenant is undocumented. Also under the law, if a person enters into a contract with someone who they know to be an undocumented immigrant, that contract is unenforceable in the state courts.
Is it possible to know at this point what that rental provision will mean on the ground?
There are two states that have previously tried something similar, where you would have to get an occupancy permit from the city before you could rent, and the city was in charge of immigration verification before issuing a permit. The Alabama version is a little different. It says that the landlord is committing a crime and can be prosecuted if they rent to someone who they know or should know is an undocumented immigrant. We are very fearful that landlords will start to discriminate, because if there’s any question about a person, the landlord will want to err on the side of not going to jail.