Governor Robert Bentley and Alabama's legislative leadership, House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) and Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston), today announced their joint commitment to make Alabama's new immigration law the most effective in the nation.
The essence of the law will not change, according to Governor Bentley. But the state leaders pledged that revisions to the law will be offered for consideration early in the next Legislative Session so that the law works, it can be enforced and it reflects the hospitable nature of Alabamians.
"We aren't going to repeal Alabama's illegal immigration law," said Governor Bentley. "Speaker Hubbard, President Pro Tempore Marsh and I are in total agreement on that point. As I said in my campaign for Governor, Alabama needs an effective illegal immigration law because the federal government has failed in its duties to enforce the law. The Legislature responded to that need by passing a tough immigration law and I signed it. In the time since portions of the law went into effect, I have had a number of productive conversations with legislative leadership about the new law. We recognize that changes are needed to ensure that Alabama has not only the nation's most effective law, but one that is fair and just, promotes economic growth, preserves jobs for those in Alabama legally, and can be enforced effectively and without prejudice. At the same time, we are in complete agreement that we will not compromise our ability to make sure that everyone who lives and works in our state does so legally. There is nothing unkind, unjust or unwarranted about asking everyone in Alabama to obey the law."
"The leadership of the Alabama House and Senate and I are working together to develop a bill for consideration at the beginning of the next legislative session. The bill's purpose is to clarify and simplify the current immigration law to ensure that everyone working in Alabama is doing so legally, that law enforcement officers have the clarity, the flexibility and the tools they need to enforce immigration laws, that faith-based, medical and humanitarian services are protected, and that unnecessary burdens on legal residents and businesses are eliminated," said Bentley.
Governor Bentley, Speaker Hubbard and President Pro Tempore Marsh have over the last two months met with leaders in business, healthcare services, education, faith communities, agriculture, economic development, tourism, construction, manufacturing and law enforcement, among others. "Through the course of those meetings and the enforcement of the law, it is clear that some parts of the law need revision so that Alabama will have a more effective and more easily enforced law," said Bentley.
"The Legislature isn't going to repeal or weaken this law, but there may be ways we can make it work better," Speaker Hubbard said. "From the outset we have been open to adjustments to ensure more efficient and less burdensome application of the law for businesses and local governments. We must enforce the law while maintaining what we believe is the most business-friendly environment anywhere in America. Alabama wants a positive work environment, and we welcome legal residents to be a part of it. We can have a thriving business climate that rivals any in the world while also shutting off the magnet drawing illegal immigrants to our state."
"I'm confident the membership of the House will support a bill that provides clarity, so long as we preserve the intent of the law, which is to make sure people living and working in Alabama are here legally," the Speaker added.
"Governor Bentley has shown great leadership and courage in his effort to uphold and defend Alabama's immigration law in the face of attempts by the federal government to undo it," said Senator Marsh.
"As we've said all along, we want to ensure a streamlined, efficient implementation of Alabama's illegal immigration law for businesses, local governments and legal Alabama residents. We will work with members of the Senate and the Lieutenant Governor -- along with the Attorney General and others who have sensible suggestions -- to consider revisions that will clarify any parts of the law that may be vague or require additional definition. We are committed to keeping the spirit and intent of the law intact and will not consider any measures that will weaken the law, nor will we repeal it," Marsh concluded.
"We are reaching out internationally to reassure our global partners that the business climate in Alabama is as strong as ever, and our people and communities are as inviting and welcoming as we've always been," said Bentley. "We will continue to focus our full attention on recruiting and creating quality jobs for those who need and deserve them. We will continue to welcome international industry with open arms. We have a number of major economic development announcements on the horizon, and I'm confident 2012 will be a prosperous new year for our people."