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Joey Kennedy: On Alabama's Lousy Anti-Immigrant Law, the State Still Isn't Ready to Yell Uncle

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More than a year after Alabama began implementing state anti-immigrant law HB 56—which was supposed to be a jobs bill–Alabama now has the worst economy in the American Southeast.  The state has endured a year of civil rights groups and supporters comparing the state’s present to its famously ugly racial past, and federal courts no longer want anything to do with it.  And now the entire country is moving toward immigration reform—further isolating anti-immigrant states like Alabama and threatening to leave it in the nativist wilderness. And yet, it seems, Alabama won’t give up.  As Joey Kennedy at the Birmingham News explains in his column today:

Usually, when folks are getting the stew beaten out of them, they cry uncle. “Stop! Please just stop! I give up!” Why keep getting bloodied and broken in a losing fight, especially when the opponent is bigger, stronger, smarter and, most important, has the moral imperative?

Yet, this is Alabama, where we dare defend our wrongs, and we’re not about to give up a bad cause until we’ve spent millions on legal fees to prove how really bad our cause is. That’s our history. We did it on community desegregation, public school integration and college desegregation. We did it defending terrible prison, juvenile corrections, child welfare, and mental health systems that were severely broken because we wouldn’t do the right thing. We are now involved in another prison case we’ll likely lose: segregating HIV-positive inmates in state prisons.

And now we’re doing it on a terrible immigration law that has done more harm to Alabama and its reputation in the past two years than most anything in decades.

Alabama-stubborn knows no limits. We’ll keep fighting, and keep getting the stew beaten out of us, until, I guess, we collapse in unconsciousness.

Alabama’s stances on immigration is the very thing the rest of the country is moving away from.  In a poll of registered American voters last year, Fox News found that 66% of registered voters supported allowing immigrants to stay in the country and eventually become citizens after they had passed a background check, learned English, and paid back taxes.  Only 19% of all registered voters wanted to mass-deport immigrants back to their country of origin—the kind of hard line stance Alabama takes.  And yet Alabama doesn’t seem to realize how out there it is.  As Kennedy continues:

Have we learned? Uh, no. State Sen. Scott Beason, one of HB 56’s sponsors and the unfortunate spokesperson for the issue, said he’s still proud of the crappy law he helped create.

Here’s what Beason told al.com/News Montgomery reporter Kim Chandler“We were attacking the problem from every angle. The court has said some of the angles cannot be used. I disagree with them.”

See? Beason is not teachable. The court has been crystal clear, but Beason still thinks he’s right and the court is wrong, because Beason got his law degree from . . . nowhere?

And, of course, Beason wants the state to take the case on up to the U.S. Supreme Court if it will. Hey, it’s only money — in a state that had to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to balance its budgets. Brilliant.

Beason and Alabama Republicans won’t like it, but immigration reform is coming. National GOP leaders get it. Unlike the masochists in Alabama, national Republicans didn’t like the beating they took on immigration in the Nov. 6 election, and they know they’ll have trouble ever again winning a nationwide vote if they don’t get right with most every ethnic group in the country — and especially the Hispanic and Latino populations.

Besides, it’s the right and humane thing to do.

That means reform, and not just some nod to reform, either. Yeah, Alabama will get left behind on this one, too. We’re the nation’s caboose, and so very damn proud of it.

Hit us again. Harder. We like it.

Please read his full column here.