Alabama GOP to soften immigration bill

April 23, 2012 at 9:15 PM
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 23 (UPI) -- Alabama Republicans said they plan to drop language from an immigration bill allowing police to question car passengers they suspect of being undocumented.

The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday saying officers must make an attempt to determine citizenship status when "reasonable suspicion exists that a person in the same automobile as the person who was lawfully arrested or issued a traffic citation is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States," The Birmingham News reported Monday.

Todd Stacy, a spokesman for Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard said Republicans had planned to remove the controversial language during debate but decided not to "because of the threat of continued filibuster."

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said he hopes the language will be changed by time the Senate votes on the bill next month. Otherwise it might spark a new legal challenge, the newspaper said.

Mary Bauer, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said the passenger language would definitely create a legal challenge.

"There's no doubt the way this plays out in the real world is that it is targeted at people who look a certain way," Bauer said.

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