Governor Robert Bentley on Friday signed House Bill 658, a bill designed to simplify and clarify Alabama's existing immigration law, commonly 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."
"I still have concerns about the school provision in the original law," Governor Bentley said. "That provision is currently enjoined by a federal court, so it is not currently in effect, and we can re-address this issue if the need arises. I also still disagree with certain aspects of the new provision in House Bill 658 that called for expending state funds to create a public database with the names of illegal immigrants."
"However, as we worked with legislators during the special session, it became clear that the Legislature did not have the appetite for addressing further revisions at this time," Governor Bentley added. "In an effort to remove the distraction of immigration from the other business of the special session, I decided to sign House Bill 658 and allow the progress made in the legislation to move forward. We can now also move forward on the other business of the special session."
"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. "This bill reduces burdens on legal residents as they conduct government transactions. The bill also reduces burdens on businesses while still holding them accountable to hire legal workers. These changes make this a stronger bill."