Alabama Trumps Immigration

Immigrant influence in politicsAs a candidate who’s brought undocumented immigration to the forefront of issues in the presidential election, Donald Trump underscored his position at a mid-August rally at the University of South Alabama. While the billionaire presidential hopeful attracted a crowd of 30,000 to the event, one element that’s often been overlooked is that the state already has significant crackdown policies on the books that courts have consistently overthrown.

Passed by a new Republican legislature in 2011, the Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act is designed to pressure undocumented immigrants to stay out of the state. The bill’s chief architect, Micky Hammon, said the passage of HR 56 would “make it difficult for them to live here, so they will deport themselves,” according to a Washington Post story on the topic. Renting a house to an undocumented immigrant, for example, became a crime. Additionally, the state’s police force as well as school administrators were empowered to demand proof of citizenship from anyone “who looked as if he or she might lack it,” according to the story.

The effect of the law brought substantial pushback from those on the other side of the issue. On the legal side, court challenges chipped away at the teeth in the law. On the political front, a public relations campaign successfully pushed the blame for vanishing capital investment and an exodus of agricultural workers at the foot of Republicans in the state.

One prominent Republican who supported the Alabama law was Mitt Romney, the party’s nominee in the 2012 election cycle. As the Washington Post story puts it, political strategists blamed Romney’s loss on “his support for the Alabama attrition policy. Those critics included Donald Trump.”

One of those on the other side of the issue from Trump is Frank Barragan. Barragan is the regional organizer in Mobile for the Alabama Coalition for Immigration Justice.

We could tell him a hundred of the things that went wrong in Alabama,” Barragan said in the story. “But our biggest concern is not really Donald Trump. Oour concern is that the other candidates are jumping on that bandwagon.”

Related: Arizona Immigration Laws go to Court