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Many Alabama employees aren’t being screened to confirm their legal status to work in the United States, despite a 2011 state law requiring businesses to use the federal E-Verity system.
A recent report in the publication Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, said only 60 percent of new Alabama hires were screened with E-Verify in the year ending in June 2017. That’s up from 14 percent in 2011, before the state’s anti-illegal immigration law went into effect.
Now, state Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, proposes requiring employers to prove their E-Verify usage before obtaining business licenses. He has a bill ready for the 2019 legislative session that mirrors a law in Georgia, where 94 percent of employees were screened through E-Verify, according to Pew.
Orr recently said there will always be bad actors who don’t follow the law, but he thinks some businesses are simply ignorant about it.
“They don’t know about the law or don’t think it applies to them,” Orr said. “Until someone is telling them or reminding them, they’ll continue to be ignorant.”
Jay Town, one of the three Trump administration-appointed U.S. attorneys for Alabama, indicates there should be no mystery about his priorities in the Northern District of Alabama. They closely align with those outlined by the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he said.
“I think that General Sessions and the department made it very clear before I was sworn what the priorities of the department and, especially the criminal division, were,” Town said. “So, it’s guns, it’s dope, it’s illegal immigration, it is opioids. And we are executing those priorities very well.
“We recently released our fiscal ’17 numbers, and in all of those areas we had very robust numbers in terms of our prosecutions last year in comparison to the previous year and years.”
Town’s jurisdiction is centered in Birmingham, the state’s most populous city in its largest metro area, and encompasses the Huntsville-Madison County area, a hub of U.S. government work.
His office’s priorities reflect some of the problems endemic to this part of the state. Town said that, while priorities are shared among the 93 U.S. attorneys, “The way we are executing them, perhaps, is a little different.”
Lipscomb Elementary School, tucked away on a quiet neighborhood street, does not draw a lot of attention to itself. Its enrollment numbers, however, show a dramatic story of Alabama’s growing Hispanic population.
The school in the Jefferson County school system is a plain red-brick complex near Bessemer, Birmingham and Brighton and Midfield. It serves grades K-5, and is a Title I school. That means most of its students are from low-income families and need additional resources, primarily in math and English, so they can learn on the same level as their better-off counterparts elsewhere in the system.
Fifteen years ago, Lipscomb had 188 students, most of them black, with a handful of whites. Today it has 254 students, and the enrollment is almost evenly split among Hispanics and blacks. Most of the Hispanic students are U.S.-born, mostly of Mexican heritage, and about 80 of them are taking English as a Second Language classes.
Reflecting the growing Hispanic presence in its classrooms and hallways, Lipscomb held Hispanic heritage month from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 last year. During that month, the children danced and sampled food prepared by parents of some of their fellow students; each classroom did research on a Spanish-speaking country south of the border.
Lipscomb recently observed Black History Month, and principal Reta Hayes says its chief lesson was “that even though we may be all of different cultures, and (though) we may be of different colors overall, we are still one big happy family.”
Different cultures and colors have been a growing fact of life in Alabama public schools in recent decades. Enrollment figures from the state Department of Education for the current academic year show nearly 727,000 students in K-12, a decline of 11 percent over last year due to a drop in both white and black enrollment. Statewide Hispanic/Latino numbers, however, showed an increase, rising 6 percent over last year to total 57,817, or about 8 percent of the total K-12 enrollment. In 2000-01, the K-12 Hispanic total was 9,541, or about 16 percent of the current figure.
They’re voters, for sure. But I’ve told people in my campaign, “Don’t expect me to pass a litmus test for one side or the other.” I continue to get asked, “Are you liberal, conservative, moderate, progressive, what?” And I say, “Don’t label me! I’m Doug, and I’m going to vote the way I feel. I’m certainly not going to pass the far left’s litmus test any more than I’m going to pass the far right’s litmus tests. Read more.
Alabama legislators kick-started their session last week, with committees approving bills on abortion, sanctuary campuses and death penalty sentences, among other topics. Those bills could go to the floor of the House or Senate this week.
The governor’s recommendations for the General Fund and Education Trust Fund budgets also were introduced last week but have yet to come up for a vote. Read more.
Voterama in Congress
KEY VOTES AHEAD: The House will take up fiscal 2021 spending bills in the week of July 27, while the Senate will vote on judicial nominations. Both chambers are expected to start work on a coronavirus-relief package.
WASHINGTON — Alabama’s representatives in the U.S. House split along party lines on a vote last week to remove from the Capitol building a bust of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the author of the Dred Scott vs. Sandford ruling in 1857 that Blacks could not be citizens of the United States or sue in federal courts.
Under the bill, the Taney bust on the Senate side of the Capitol would be replaced with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice.
The House on July 22 voted 305 for and 113 against to pass HR 7573 and send it to the Senate. Read more.
Former Auburn University head coach Tommy Tuberville handily defeated former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate seat Tuesday night in an election heavily influenced by the candidates’ relationships to President Donald Trump.
According to unofficial results reported by the Alabama Secretary of State’s office, Tuberville defeated Sessions 60.74% to 39.26%. Tuberville will face Democrat Doug Jones in the Nov. 3 general election.
Voting in the party primary runoffs was higher than expected. Almost 17.4% of voters statewide cast ballots in the election, which is more than those who voted in the 2014 and 2016 primary runoffs.
In Jefferson County, 15.34% of voters cast ballots. About 71% of those ballots were cast in the Republican primary and about 29% in the Democratic, according to unofficial results reported by the county Board of Registrars office.
Political prognosticators see the defeat as the end of Sessions’ decades-long political career, which started in 1981 with his appointment by President Ronald Reagan as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, a title he held for 12 years. Read more.
Jeff Sessions kicked off a weeklong tour of Alabama last week with a visit to a farmer’s market in Pike Road, a small town 14 miles outside Montgomery. The event marked the beginning of a final campaign push for Sessions, who is locked in a heated battle to regain the U.S. Senate seat he held from 1997 to 2017.
The campaign has been an uphill battle for Sessions, to put it lightly. Polls have consistently shown him trailing his opponent, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, by as many as 20 points. Now, with the July 14 Republican runoff election just days away, Sessions is making his closing argument: that his opponent is “weak.”
Tuberville is touting his endorsement by President Donald Trump, saying he stands with the president to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Read more.
BirminghamWatch has gathered information you’ll need before heading to the polls or filling out that absentee ballot. Inside you’ll find:
One time she was in a beauty salon when it happened, Pam King remembers. Another time, she was in the drug store. One time it happened while she was driving down the street in Vestavia Hills.
In each instance, another white person — someone she didn’t know — decided it was OK to say something to her that was racist about Black people.
“You can hear it every day. You can hear it … anywhere,” King said. “You hear from white people, constantly, ‘Well, did you hear what the Black people are doing?’ Just all kinds of little comments, every day. It’s part of the conversation.” Read more.