MONTGOMERY – On Friday, Governor Robert Bentley signed House Bill 658, a bill designed to simplify and clarify Alabama’s existing immigration law, also known as House Bill 56.
“We needed to make House Bill 56 better. And over the course of the legislative session, we did that,” Governor Bentley said. “There is substantial progress in this bill. Burdens on legal residents and businesses are eased, and the goal remains the same – that if you live and work in Alabama, you must do so legally.”
“Over the last several months, we worked closely with legislators to revise House Bill 56,” Governor Bentley added. “The set of revisions that passed in the full House of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary Committee had my support. The bill that the full Senate ultimately passed was different and did not reflect all of the changes we had agreed upon. However, the bill did include most of the suggested revisions and represented substantial progress in simplifying the bill while keeping it strong.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center has fought Alabama’s immigration law, and painted a different picture of Friday’s development.
“Today is an incredibly dark day for Alabama. Despite the fact that our state has suffered incredibly over the past year as a result of HB56, the Alabama legislature and Governor Bentley have chosen to double down by passing and signing into law an even more extreme measure,” said Mary Bauer, the SPLC’s legal director. “While other states have abandoned similar measures and even recalled the sponsors of such measures, Alabama has once again made a name for itself as the worst of the worst.”
Governor Bentley said he still has concerns about the school provision in the original law, as well as a portion in the new law that calls for expanding state funds to create a public database with the names of illegal immigrants.
“The bottom line is there are too many positive aspects of House Bill 658 for it to go unsigned. I don’t want to lose the progress we have made,” Governor Bentley said.