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A Lesson to Be Learned from Alabama; By Danielle Beach-Oswald

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Danielle Beach-Oswald is the current President and Managing Partner of Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates in Washington, DC. Ms. Beach utilizes her 19 years of experience in immigration law to help individuals immigrate to the United States for humanitarian reasons. Born in Brussels, Belgium, Ms. Beach has lived in England, Belgium, Italy and Ivory Coast and has traveled extensively to many countries. Ms. Beach advocates for clients from around the world who seek freedom from torture in their country, or who are victims of domestic violence and trafficking. She has also represented her clients at U.S. Consulates in Romania, China, Canada, Mexico, and several African countries. With her extensive experience in family-based and employment-based immigration law Ms. Beach not only assists her clients in obtaining a better standard of living in the United States, she also helps employers obtain professional visas, and petitions for family members. She also handles many complex naturalization issues. Ms. Beach has unique expertise representing clients in immigration matters pending before the Federal District Courts, Circuit Courts, Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Courts. She has won over 400 humanitarian cases in the United States. Her firm's website is

As states are continuing to pass immigration laws of their own, they should take note of the swift impact of Alabama's HB56 on the state and people of Alabama. Although most of Alabama's immigration law won't take effect until September 1, Alabama's law is considered to be one of the harshest in the country. Provisions of HB56 include requiring law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of any person they suspect is in the country illegally. HB56 will also have a dire effect on children as it would require primary and secondary schools to check the status of all students and parents that are registered in the school. Additionally, there are also provisions requiring the use of E-Verify and harsh penalties for employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Although the law is being challenged in federal court, the impact of the law is already being felt across Alabama. The impact on Alabama's education system will likely lead to severe financial problems. Although schools are required to check the status of all students and their parents, they are forbidden from the 1982 Supreme Court decision of Plyler v. Doe to deny educating these students. Educators are fearful that the new law will create discrepancies in the amount of students registered in Alabama's school districts and consequently have a direct impact on federal educational funding.

State budgets are already feeling the impact of a continued budget strain from long before the passage of HB56. Although Alabama's judicial system has been faced with a $13.2 million cut in their budget this year, the new bill will only increase costs to an already strained judicial system. HB56 requires all detained immigrants to be presented to a magistrate for a review of their status, likely leading to the hiring of more magistrates in Alabama. Additionally, a call center that will cost $4 million to help employers with E-Verify is also set to be established.

State officials have also noted that the number of individuals seeking apostilles, a guarantee that an individual who signs a state certified document has the ability to do so, has increased by nearly 400% in the past few months. This too has been costly for Alabama's Department of Public Health.

Many economists are predicting a mass exodus of undocumented immigrants. Currently, 4.2% of Alabama's workforce consists of undocumented workers. Catholic churches and Latino organizations are already reporting an exodus of illegal immigrants from Alabama to other states. These workers have played a vital role in rebuilding parts of Alabama that have been devastated in the wake of spring tornadoes. Although Alabama needs an estimated 7200 workers to help rebuild, this bill is expected to create a massive worker shortage.

As states try to pass immigration laws, they must learn from Alabama's lesson and realize that the consequences for their hastily designed bills will have wide ramifications on their budgets and economies.

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