45 years or so after the end of the Civil Rights movement, Alabama is back on the “cultural fault line.” I can’t turn on NPR, pick up a newspaper, or surf the web without hearing something about House Bill 56, which empowers local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws. The more things change…
However, the truth is that most people here aren’t saying or doing much in regard to HB56. Most people hate politics. Frankly, it’d be much easier to get people going on whether Lindsay Lohan should be sitting in LA County jail or whether it’s a good idea for the SEC to admit The University of Missouri as its 14th member. (Maybe we get the government we deserve?).
USA Today had an excellent article about HB56’s impact yesterday. The link is here:
(Note to culture snobs – yes, I’m aware that USA Today doesn’t enjoy a sterling reputation for quality. But, on occasion, even the blind squirrel finds an acorn). I did get a laugh at the unintentionally-amusing line that “Not everyone in Russellville opposes the new law.” Well, duh. Our politicians aren’t the sharpest knives the drawer, but even they can count votes and there would have been no HB56 if at least some people didn’t support it.
So, what do I think about this mess? HB56 is largely irrelevant. It’s a symptom of the culture wars and the country’s inability to reach consensus. But if federal immigration laws are changed, it won’t matter how tough or lax the Alabama legislature decided to be. Back in the 1950s the Alabama legislature passed a law that declared that U.S. Supreme Court rulings regarding integration “null, void, and of no effect.” Then-Governor Jim Folsom sneered (in his folksy way) that the legislature was “like a hound dog baying at the moon and claiming it’s got the moon treed.”
Mind you, I don’t agree that the law amounts to “Juan Crow.” Whatever Alabama’s failings, there is no present-day equivalent of Bull Connor siccing German shepherds on children in the streets of Birmingham. Some states – Alabama included – are responding to the federal government’s failure to enforce or change laws that aren’t working. I do, however, think that HB56 is likely to cost the state a lot of money for enforcement and litigation and that the immigration issue will be resolved – if at all – only in D.C.
I’ll probably give my two cents about the national immigration mess in another blog. That one has no good answers…