MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Senate rejected Wednesday an effort to repeal the state's tough new immigration bill.
The Senate voted 20-14 Wednesday to turn down a motion to repeal the immigration law, which critics and supporters have called the toughest crackdown on illegal immigration in the country.
The motion was made by Democratic Sen. Billy Beasley of Clayton, who has introduced a bill seeking the law's repeal. The repeal vote came during debate of a bill to make changes in the immigration law. Beasley introduced the repeal motion as a substitute to the bill making changes in the immigration law.
During the debate, Beasley said the immigration law has brought new government regulations to the state and caused unintended consequences like the arrests of two foreign car company officials.
Beasley said the law had made it difficult for farmers to harvest their crops, particularly farmers who grow vegetables, like tomatoes that have to be picked by hand.
He said immigrants have many of those jobs, which involve hard outdoors work and many U.S. citizens don't want to do them.
"There wouldn't be workers out in the tomato fields and the blueberry fields if those jobs weren't needed," Beasley said.
Immigration law supporter Republican Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale called the arguments in favor of repeal "rhetoric not based in reality."
Beason later stood at a podium in the Senate chamber and explained item by item in a substitute bill, which senators are expected to vote on Thursday,
Beason said many of the changes are aimed at clearing up confusion and what he called misconceptions concerning the law.
"We're doing our best to clear up what I think is hypersensitivity about this piece of legislation," Beason said.
Mary Bauer, attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center which filed a lawsuit last year against the immigration law, argued that one of the changes requires the courts to compile a list of illegal aliens who have had encounters with law enforcement.
"This is kind of like a scarlet letter list," Bauer said.
Beason argued that all of the information is public record which is available on any citizen.