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Alabama Police Not Ready to Enforce New Anti-Immigration Law

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alabamaAfter a long, hot summer of protests and lawsuits, Alabama’s tough new immigration law is scheduled to begin taking effect this week.

The law even criminalizes police officers who do not do enough to persecute immigrants; it invites citizens to sue police officers or court officials whom they believe are not properly enforcing the law.  This authoritarian, snitch-on-each-other provision has left Alabama police unprepared to enforce the new law and unprepared to defend themselves from litigation.

“I’m not sure what a police officer is supposed to do,” Gasden City Attorney Roger Kirby told the Gadsden Times this weekend.  The law “is almost an unenforceable act.”

Others have pointed out the many possible unintended consequences of the new legislation.  According to Northport Police Chief Robert Green, those who have a bone to pick with law enforcement officials could easily exploit the law’s sue-a-police-officer provision:

If someone really wants to go after law enforcement, that’s something they can use against us.  It’s one of the major reasons why I strongly opposed the new law.

And as with another program, Secure Communities, using local police officers to double as immigration agents could be harmful to neighborhood safety as a whole.  As Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson commented:

It may alienate the Hispanic community.  We’ve been working very hard with the community, but this may make them hesitate to come forward in reporting crime.  It’s not a good thing for our Hispanic community or our community at large.

And if this what police officers on the ground in charge of keeping the peace are saying, one wonders why zealous anti-immigrant politicians in the state capitol think they know better.