Alabama Gives Up on ‘Show Me Your Papers’

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Alabama is effectively giving up on the core provision of its controversial “show me your papers” immigration law.

State and local law enforcement officers will not be able to stop someone to check their immigration status or because they believe the person is undocumented, according to a legal agreement reached with civil rights groups on Tuesday.

After Arizona passed a law targeting undocumented immigrants in 2010, Alabama followed suit a year later with an even stricter law known as HB 56. The Alabama measure banned undocumented immigrants from attending publicly funded colleges and prohibited landlords from renting to people without papers.


The law also contained a provision allowing police to stop people solely to check their immigration status.

Like the Arizona law, many HB 56 provisions did not stand up in court.

Among others, a court blocked a provision requiring public schools — elementary, middle school and high school — from requiring families to submit the immigration status of students for enrollment.

The agreement reached this week was a victory for the three dozen plaintiffs and the civil rights groups who represented them. The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Immigration Law Center all worked on the case.

In addition to abandoning the “show me your papers” provision, the state agreed to permanently block other provisions that have already been struck down by federal courts.


But HB 56 isn’t entirely dead. Some measures, like the ban on undocumented immigrants attending state-funded colleges, are still in effect.

Ted Hesson was formerly the immigration editor at Fusion, covering the issue from Washington, D.C. He also writes about drug laws and (occasionally) baseball. On the side: guitars, urban biking, and fiction.

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