Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Immigration Policy Doesn't Change Alabama Law

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Immigration Policy Doesn't Change Alabama Law

Article excerpt

MONTGOMERY | Illegal immigrants will still be subject to arrest under Alabama's immigration law despite President Barack Obama's temporary ban on deporting certain young people.

Immigration attorneys said that certain illegal immigrants can still be detained, unless they successfully apply for and receive temporary residency status under the new policy announced by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.

Alabama will follow the new federal immigration policy if it doesn't conflict with Alabama's immigration law, said Gov. Robert Bentley.

Obama on June 15 announced a "deferred action" process for some young illegal immigrants, in which they can apply to stay in the United States with no fear of deportation or prosecution for up to two years.

"Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization," Obama said June 15.

Illegal immigrants can apply for temporary status if they were brought to the United States before they were 16, have been here for at least five years, are in school, are not older than 30, and do not have serious criminal records.

Bentley said the new policy would not change enforcement of the state law.

"It is our duty to enforce the law as it's written in the state of Alabama," he said.

In a statement, Jennifer Ardis, Bentley's press secretary, said the federal government determines who is in Alabama illegally.

"If the federal government expands its definition of who is lawfully present, then those individuals would not be impacted by our law," she said. "The goal of Alabama's immigration law remains to ensure that if you're living and working in Alabama, you must do so legally."

Parts of Alabama's immigration law, which first passed in 2011, have been upheld in federal court, but the law was amended in 2012 to address court concerns.

Zayne Smith, an immigration attorney with the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, said eligible people have to successfully apply for temporary status before they can be considered non-deportable.

"One thing to make sure is it does not change under Alabama law that someone who is undocumented can still be arrested and detained," Smith said. …

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