Immigration Laws: Hispanics Feel Harrassed in Alabama

Hispanic individuals feel that Alabama’s immigration law targets them unfairly and harms their quality of life. Some people from the Hispanic community, for example, have stated that they are asked about their immigration status in the emergency room – before their case is evaluated and before they get any medical attention.

According to some residents of the state, even legal people are being targeted and asked to confirm their legal status in the US – which is troubling, since the law was reportedly not supposed to affect those in the country legally. The stories about emergency rooms are especially troubling, since medical professionals are supposed to help everyone, regardless of who they are.

The Alabama law is one of six immigration state laws which have been passed in the last two years to address the issue of undocumented immigration. The six states allege that the federal government is doing little to stop undocumented immigration and so they have passed legislation to take the matter into their own hands. In June, The US Supreme Court upheld most of Arizona’s immigration law, which means that other states such as Alabama will now be able to require authorities and police to check the immigration status of those who are stopped.

Residents of Alabama claim that the laws subject them to harassment and racial profiling. A civil rights hotline has received more than 6000 calls and complaints in the state. Although Alabama’s law enforcement agencies claim that they are not allowing racial profiling, residents claim that they are being subject to harassment simply because of their background. Alabama’s Department of Homeland Security and the Attorney General’s Office claim they have no formal complaints related to the law.

However, some law enforcement authorities do say that the law is harmful to the Hispanic community. Ron Tyler is the police chief in Florence, and he says that they law is preventing members of the Hispanic community from coming forward to report crimes, because they fear deportation. He also says that the law is making it harder to build trust between police and the Hispanic community. Other law enforcement officials in the state point out that police agencies do not need to report how often they check immigration status under the new legislation, so there is no way to check that racial profiling is not taking place.

Some Hispanic residents in Alabama have left the state, worried about the new law. Others have remained but are living so that they do not come into contact with police, which is undermining the good relationships between communities and the police enjoyed in previous years.