In a response to the increasing numbers of immigrants illegally entering America’s southern states, Alabama has passed a “tough illegal immigration law”, that allows police officers to arrest people they suspect to be illegal immigrants, even if they were stopped for another reason.
The legislation, signed by Republican Governor Robert Bentley, was passed into law on Thursday 9 June and will take effect on 1 September.
The new law will also make it illegal to knowingly rent a property or give a lift in a car to an illegal immigrant.
Also, schools will be obliged to check the citizenship of their enrolling students.
Mary Bauer, legal director of the civil rights group Southern Poverty Law Centre, described the law as “mean-spirited, racist and unconstitutional”.
She said: “It makes it a crime for U.S. citizens to give people a ride if they turn out to be undocumented. It doesn’t even have an exception for churches that are providing shelter or food or rides.”
But Gov Bentley believes the new law is just what Alabama needs. He said: “We have a real problem with illegal immigration in this country.
“I campaigned for the toughest immigration laws, and I’m proud of the legislature for working tirelessly to create the strongest immigration bill in the country.”
Other states in the south of the USA are also taking more stringent, and controversial, measures to tackle illegal immigration.
Last week, civil rights groups brought legal action against a new law passed in Georgia. And in Arizona, parts of a new law that allowed police wider stop-and-search powers were blocked.
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