An Alabama law makes it a Class C Felony for undocumented aliens to transact business with state agencies. Alabama law HB 56 states the following:
An alien not lawfully present in the United States shall not enter into or attempt to enter into a business transaction with the state or a political subdivision of the state and no person shall enter into a business transaction or attempt to enter into a business transaction on behalf of an alien not lawfully present in the United States. […]
A violation of this section is a Class C felony.
As a result, at least one utility company in Alabama posted a sign informing its customers that this section of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law prohibits them from providing water service to undocumented immigrants.
Class C felonies are punishable by up to ten years in prison. Thus, undocumented aliens can be imprisoned for a decade for attempting to use water in Alabama.
We think it is simply INHUMANE to deny water to anybody in this country – and arguably a violation of international human rights.
Also, based on how broadly the State defines “business transactions,” it could be that any transaction, including paying State taxes, could result in imprisonment. As this article correctly points out:
“….because the law defines unlawful “business transactions” very broadly to include “any transaction between a person and the state or a political subdivision of the state,” the mere act of paying income taxes might qualify. Thus, if an undocumented immigrant pays their taxes, they will be guilty of a felony, but if they don’t they will also be guilty of a felony.”
As one interested reader noted, a criminal is a criminal. Does Alabama want to deny water to all of them? Will they apply their harsh laws to murderers, thieves, and sexual predators? After all, if they are trying to chase away “undesirables”, wouldn’t it make more sense to start with those who are truly a menace to society?
Illegal immigration has been a hot-button issue in recent years. There is no question that border security needs to improve. But we need to revise our outdated immigration laws to allow more avenues for skilled and unskilled immigrant workers to work and reside in the United States.
The problem is the law, not the people!
This needs to be accomplished in a way that does not impact our basic humanity towards people. There are ways to tackle illegal immigration without denying water to a group of people or making it a felony to pay taxes. When trying to enforce immigration laws, let’s not lose our compassion as people, and what makes the United States special.