Just know, going in, that a serious effort to cleanse Alabama of illegal aliens will come at a high price. And not just higher prices for homes, chicken and catfish.
Stockpiling people in jail, as we ought to know by now, costs a bundle, both in karma and cash.
What would Hoover do if it had to hold all its unverified immigrants?
“I don’t know,” Mayor Tony Petelos said. “I don’t know.”
Jefferson County Chief Deputy Randy Christian was more pointed.
“We have a jail right now built for about 900 that is busting at the seams, averaging 1,200 inmates daily,” he said. “Maybe we can fence in Legion Field and use it.”
And Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper said the bill would create an unfunded mandate, forcing local agencies to assume what has been a federal job.
It would hurt police ability to investigate crimes, particularly in the Hispanic community, and the jail issue, he said, is “simply beyond explanation.”
And Tuscaloosa News reports in an article entitled: Law Enforcement uneasy over proposed immigration law. additional unfunded mandates and concerns of law enforcement:
They say the cost, manpower and the legality of screening people for their immigration status are among the things they worry about with the bill that passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday. . .
Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ted Sexton said Wednesday. ‘My biggest concern is that state and local law enforcement officers are not granted the authority to check immigration status.’ . . .
Additionally, a minimum of six weeks of training is required for certification on the immigration system. Sexton said he would be willing to have Tuscaloosa County deputies become certified to use it, but the cost is too high.
‘There’s lots who want to do it, but the funding just isn’t there to do it,’ he said.
. . . the House version contains no funding for training or additional resources to assist local law enforcement officials in checking whether an immigrant is in the U.S. legally.
And that, said Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson, is among his chief concerns.
‘It seems like it’s going to put an additional burden on law enforcement without giving us any additional resources,’ he said. ‘I think that would put a strain on our department and other departments without additional resources being available.’
Sexton said his department has deported 60 illegal immigrants in the past year, but that the proposed new law could prolong the verification process. That could lead to more overcrowding at the county jail, which he said has a capacity for 540 inmates but as of Wednesday had 610 inmates. . .
Green and Anderson both expressed fears that if the responsibility of verifying the immigration status of these residents becomes the sole responsibility of local law enforcement agencies, that task could take officers away from other public safety measures.
‘I just have some serious concerns about the direction (the Legislature is) going with this particular legislation, and I have some serious reservations if it passes both (Legislative) chambers,’ Green said. ‘And if it does pass, it’s going to be virtually unenforceable.’