Immigration law prompts exodus, planning in Alabama

An Alabama immigration law slated to take effect on September 1 has caused many unauthorized immigrants to flee the state in an anticipation, despite the challenge pending in federal court, reports the Birmingham News.

Governor Robert Bentley signed off on one of the nation’s toughest illegal immigration laws in June, which requires police to detain someone if they suspect a person is in the country illegally and schools to determine a student’s citizenship status. Those who knowingly harbor an illegal immigrant can also be charged with a crime.

As a result of the new law, many immigrants have already moved or are preparing to leave the state. Others have sought out the help of attorneys, setting up legal protections for their American-born children if they are detained or must leave the country.

While the law has sparked controversy as the nation grapples with immigration reform, some Alabama politicians are pleased with the law.

“This will create jobs for unemployed Alabama citizens,” State Rep. Micky Hammon told the news source. “We want to discourage illegal immigrants from coming to Alabama and prevent those that are already here from putting down roots.”

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Alabama was 9.6 percent in May 2011. Twenty-two Alabama counties had an unemployment rate above 11.9 percent. The national unemployment rate in June 2011 was 9.2 percent nationwide.