Police react to new Ala. immigration law
New statute will provide more muscle for officers, but complete impact remains to be seen
WHNT News 19
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Starting in September, all law enforcement agencies in the state of Alabama will be required to check the citizenship status of anyone who is suspected of being an illegal immigrant. People who cannot verify their citizenship through legal documentation will be immediately arrested, but only if they were stopped for another reason such as a traffic violation or being caught in the middle of a criminal act.
Law enforcement officials who spoke with WHNT News 19 on Thursday voiced support for the new law, but said it would not entirely solve Alabama's illegal immigration problem.
"I really don't know what the single biggest change will be," said Madison police spokesman Lt. John Stringer. "As these laws come down, police officers will receive training on this so that they are acting accordingly and within the confines of the law...Any time we get someone who may be a violent offender and who is here in the country illegally, we want to make sure we identify that person and make sure they're referred to the proper authorities."
Officers said recent tragedies in north Alabama have highlighted the need for immigration reform. In just the last few years, one illegal immigrant shot and killed a Huntsville police officer, while another ran a red light at Airport Road, causing a wreck that left two teenagers dead.
Madison County Sheriff Blake Dorning also voiced support for the law, but emphasized that only federal authorities can actually deport people. Sheriff Dorning said immigration agents often decline to take custody of his prisoners, leaving his department no choice but to release people who are confirmed to be in the country illegally.