Immigration law halted, may cause problems locally

Published 12:28 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Immigration reform that is sweeping Alabama includes one significant change to all state residents wether you’re an immigrant or not.

The probate license division will be forced to require all individuals to present proof of residency.

“Proof of residency is already required and the Alabama drivers license number is recorded on the computer before the individual’s tag can be renewed or newly registered,” said county probate judge Cindy Neilson. “This will be a terrible inconvenience on 90 percent of our customers when only 10 percent need the verification of proof.”

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Neilson said clerks would require this identification each year, even if the information is already recorded on their files.

“Where most people will really notice it when they come in to renew their husband or wife’s car tag,” she added. “If you don’t bring in their driver’s license or some form of identification for them, we won’t be able to renew the tag for you.”

Implementation of the state’s new reform law was postponed Monday.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn will block Alabama’s new immigration law for one month while she evaluates the constitutionality of the controversial law.

It was set to go into effect Thursday.

“While I would rather have seen the new law approved and become effective on its legal due date of Sept. 1, I am hopeful that Judge Blackburn’s decision to take 30 days to examine the constitutional issues will end up serving the people of Alabama well,” said Bill Armistead, Chairman of Alabama’s Republican Party. “The bill was carefully crafted by legal experts on this issue and we are hopeful it will withstand this legal test. I am heartened by both Governor Bentley’s and Attorney General Strange’s tireless support and defense of the law.”

The Alabama Legislature passed what many have called the strongest immigration law in the country. Gov. Robert Bentley signed the bill into law in June and has defended the law as stern but fair and needed.

“I look forward to the Judge ruling on the merits,” Bentley said. “We have long needed a tough law against illegal immigration in this state, and we now have one. I will continue to fight at every turn to defend this law against any and all challenges.”

The injunction on the law will expire Oct. 1 and would be lifted if Blackburn issues her ruling in the case before the deadline.