On June 9, 2011, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed into law an immigration bill similar to Arizona's controversial S.B. 1070. The measure goes into effect on September 1, 2011. It prohibits transporting or housing undocumented immigrants, requires immigrants to carry evidence of lawful status and requires police to ask for legal documents if they have "reasonable suspicion" that someone is in the country illegally. The law mandates E-Verify for all Alabama employers and prohibits drivers from transporting undocumented immigrants. Similar provisions were included in Arizona's S.B. 1070, but they were enjoined by a federal judge earlier this year on a federal preemption theory.
The Alabama law also contains a novel provision: requiring public schools to check the citizenship status of their students. The measure does not prohibit illegal immigrants from attending public schools. Lawmakers said the purpose instead is to gather data on how many are enrolled and how the much the state is spending to educate them.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union announced that they will challenge the law in court. The U.S. Department of Justice has not commented, but is likely to join in any lawsuit opposing the law due to its position that immigration matters—such as those included in the Alabama law—are reserved for the federal government.