Policy Spotlight: Potential Impact of Alabama's Immigration Law
Alabama HB 56, the Hammon-Beason Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, is an anti-illegal immigration bill signed into law in June 2011; it is regarded as the strictest anti-illegal immigration law in the United States.
The law raises several enforcement challenges for police, schools, and other public service providers such as hospitals. For example, it requires police to make a reasonable attempt to determine a person's legal status if, during the course of any legal stop or detention, the police have "reasonable suspicion" that a person is an illegal immigrant. The law also prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving any public benefits at either the state or local level, including education and hospital care.
RAND has conducted significant research on both legal and illegal immigration. Several of our reports and other publications explore the costs, benefits, and challenges of enforcing federal and state immigration laws and may be of interest to Alabama and other state policymakers.
Law Enforcement and Illegal Immigration
Fundamental to the question of border control effectiveness is the proportion of illegal crossings that are prevented through deterrence or apprehension, but estimating these proportions requires knowing the total flow. Four new approaches warrant further attention for purposes of supporting reliable, valid, and timely measures of illicit cross-border flow.
Encouraging state and local law enforcement agencies to help enforce federal immigration laws could help identify out-of-status immigrants eligible for deportation, but these efforts come with concerns about the potential for racial profiling, strained community relations, and improper resource allocation.
Federal law provides for forfeiture of the proceeds from the employment of illegal aliens, but statutory law does not specify how to calculate that amount. This report presents tools that can help determine the appropriate penalty to be levied on firms that knowingly employ undocumented workers.
Cost of Providing Health Care to Immigrants
Just a small fraction of America's health care spending is used to provide publicly supported care to the nation's undocumented immigrants. Immigrants to the United States use relatively few health services, primarily because they are generally healthier than their American-born counterparts.