Alabama set for toughest immigration law in nation
By Julia Preston / New York Times News Service
Published: June 04. 2011 4:00AM PST

Alabama has passed a sweeping bill to crack down on illegal immigrants that both supporters and opponents say is the toughest one of its kind in the country, going well beyond a law Arizona passed last year that caused a furor there.

The measure enjoyed large margins of support in the Republican-controlled Legislature. Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican, is expected to sign the bill into law.

The Alabama bill includes a provision similar to one that caused controversy in Arizona, which authorizes state and local police officers to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they stop based on a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is an illegal immigrant. Federal courts have suspended most of that law.

But Alabama’s bill goes past Arizona’s. It bars illegal immigrants from enrolling in any public college or other educational institution after high school. It also requires public schools to determine the immigration status of all students, obligating parents of foreign-born students to report the immigration status of their children.

The bill requires Alabama’s public schools to publish figures on the number of immigrants — both legal and illegal — who are enrolled and on any costs associated with their education. It also makes it a crime to knowingly rent housing to an illegal immigrant and bars businesses from taking tax deductions on wages paid to unauthorized immigrant workers. It also makes it a crime for an immigrant to fail to carry a document proving legal status.

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