After all, the argument goes, the bill allows police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally.
It’s hard to know what would cause a police officer to suspect a person of being an illegal immigrant, but it would seem that the burden would fall on people who don’t fall neatly into Alabama’s historically black-or-white racial paradigm.
Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, just offered a telling bit of information that’s sure to stoke the fires of debate.
Hammon is the author of the new immigration bill. He has told media outlets that Alabama has the second-fastest-growing illegal immigrant population in the nation.
Earlier this week, Bama Fact Check looked into that claim – and found no evidence to support it. Hammon said he had proof that Alabama was No. 2 in illegal immigrant growth, but he never produced it.
On Thursday, Hammon e-mailed Anniston Star reporter Brian Anderson with an article he said was evidence to support his claim. Here’s the link: the article cites a Pew Research Center report showing that the Alabama is No. 2 in the growth of its Hispanic population.
There is, of course, a difference.
First of all, despite the rhetoric we hear from Goat Hill, not all Hispanics are immigrants. Not by a long shot. Texas and California had significant Latino populations before they entered the Union. Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and its residents are American citizens. To them, add the millions of Hispanic Americans whose families moved here a generation ago, or two, to three, and you have a huge population of native-born Americans who identify themselves as Latino.
Obviously, even if all those people were immigrants, they wouldn’t necessarily be illegal immigrants.
All of this stuff is fairly common knowledge in places with major Latino populations. Alabama, by most counts, isn’t one of those places. By the last Census count, only 3.9 percent of Alabamians identified themselves as “Hispanic or Latino of any race.”
Perhaps that’s one reason why Alabama comes in second in percentage growth of its Latino population. That’s easy to do when the numbers are small to begin with.