Alabama vaulted past Arizona on Thursday with what is being called the most restrictive law in the nation against illegal immigration, requiring schools to find out if students are in the country lawfully and making it a crime to knowingly give an illegal immigrant a ride.
Advocacy groups promised to challenge the sweeping measure, which like Arizona’s law also allows police to arrest anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant if the person is stopped for some other reason. In addition, it requires all businesses to check the legal status of workers using a federal system called E-Verify.
Gov. Robert Bentley said the law is the nation’s toughest, and groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center agree. The groups say they plan to challenge it.
The legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mary Bauer, said Thursday that she expects a lawsuit to be filed before the provisions of law are scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1.
“It is clearly unconstitutional. It’s mean-spirited, racist and we think a court will enjoin it,” Bauer said.