The Alabama Homeland Security Department expects massive budget cuts this upcoming year due to a reduction in flow of federal dollars.

“It will be about a 40 to 50 percent cut in the state’s homeland security budget,” says John Scripture, spokesperson for the head of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security Spencer Collier (ADHS).

Accordingly, DHS expects to greatly reduce its programs and projects:

These cuts and reduction in funds for functioning programs will be a blow to the ADHS. However, the ADHS will require more funds from the state’s general fund to fulfill its newly bestowed duties. According to the Alabama’s new immigration law, the state’s homeland security department is responsible for maintaining the E-Verify system. This will require a 25 percent increase in general funding for the department to run the citizenship authentication system.

For an already cash-strapped state budget, this could pose a problem. Nevertheless, Scripture is assured the funding will be there. “Until the legislature changes its mind, we will require an increase in funding from the general fund.”

For you see, DHS had a fairly large responsibility placed upon it by the Alabama Legislature. In an effort to be sly, the Legislature converted DHS into the Human Resources/Personnel department of every small business in Alabama: all 80,000 of them. (See here and here)

Evidently, the Alabama Legislative District Maps have gone missing! Remember: they were supposed to be released to the public in early December.

All 35 Senate districts and 105 House districts will have to be redrawn because of population changes since districts were last redrawn in 2001.

The new districts will be based on the results of the 2010 federal census.

Dial said the plan is to meet before Thanksgiving and then have a proposed district plan ready by early December so that legislators on the committee can conduct hearings in their districts.

Dial and Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, plan to introduce House and Senate redistricting bills in the 2012 legislative session, which begins in February. McClendon is the committee’s co-chairman in the House.

Oh no. Some bird must have taken the map to its nest in the dark cave. Let’s hope Dora can find the maps soon.  Let’s hope there is better transparency this time around than there was on the Congressional maps. Last time, the map stayed in the dark cave until the last minute.

[Sen. Gerald] Dial, R-Lineville, said after the original public hearing in Montgomery that there were not any maps. They were there to listen to the public and re­ceive input before beginning their work. Then, a week later, when the committee was con­sidering a plan similar to his, he said he had been working on a plan for weeks, had input from members of the state’s congressional delegation, and had spent hours on the phone with them.

So, while there allegedly was not a map in the works that people could comment on dur­ing the public hearings, there was at least apparently a plan he had been working on for weeks — not with public input, but with the input of seven members of Congress.

Here is the transcript from ALGOP State Senator Gerald Dial’s interview by Brooke Baldwin on CNN:

BALDWIN: In Alabama, you have got supporters of the state’s new illegal immigration law expressing some buyer’s remorse. It recently came to a head after police arrested a German who ended later turned out to be a Mercedes-Benz executive, Mercedes-Benz, a major employer in the state of Alabama.

Also then, a Japanese man was detained, and he turned out to work for Honda, another big employer. That prompted a paper in Missouri to invite foreign carmakers to relocate there. Take a look at the quote: “We are the Show Me State, not the show me your papers state” — “Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.”

Joining me now from Montgomery, State Senator Gerald Dial. He is Alabama’s Republican whip.

And, Senator Dial, thanks for coming on.

I know you supported this law, parts of which took effect back in September. It’s considered now — and I have talked to your governor, he agrees — the nation’s toughest. Are you, sir, having some second thoughts?

GERALD DIAL (R), ALABAMA STATE SENATOR: We certainly are. And we’re also looking at making some changes in this law.

We probably overreached. I think most people in Alabama agree that we overreached on this law. And we have met with Attorney General Luther Strange and look at some change that needs to be made to this law. And that’s the good thing about the legislature. The bill we passed last year, we can start in this legislative session and make some changes.

BALDWIN: We will talk about some of that overreaching and maybe potential changes in a minute.

But in terms of I guess the image, are you worried at all that your state is being branded as being hostile to overseas businesses, some surrounding states, i.e. Missouri, clearly eager to push that idea?

DIAL: Well, I certainly am.

And, you know, recruiting industry is one of the most competitive things in America. It’s worse than recruiting quarterbacks for your high school or college football team. And so we’re certainly concerned about this. And we have worked diligently in this state for 40 years to overcome some of the images that we have had.

And to see it certainly regress back to those images that are certainly not Alabama, that don’t portray the true and real Alabama certainly bothers all of us. So, we’re committed to making some changes so we can help to overcome those images.

BALDWIN: And just so I’m clear, sir, when you say make changes, we’re not talking repeal the law. You’re making tweaks. Is that correct?

DIAL: Well, we’re talking about some tweaks, but some major tweaks that we think will make this law more amenable to people of this state.

What we did, we overreached, and we — not only in trying to make sure we didn’t have illegal immigrants in this state. We also have penalized our own citizens who have lived here all their lives. All the hardships we placed on them are also hardships that we tried to place on illegal immigrants. And this was not the intention of this bill. It was not my intention.

And I made a mistake in voting on this bill as it is today, and I’m a person that will admit I made a mistake, and I’m committed to trying to correct those mistakes. And we’re working on those as you speak.

BALDWIN: All right. So, as you — you admit this mistake, how, then, do you craft legislation that would ensure your police officers don’t arrest more foreign executives whose firms provide jobs to the people of your state?

DIAL: Well, you know, that was a unique case and certainly one that probably could have been handled with a lot more compassion. But, you know, when with I go to Europe I have to have my passport to even check in a hotel.

So the individual should have certainly should have had identification with him. He made a mistake. I don’t know all the details, but he could have been a little more compassionate, say, send somebody to the room and get your passport and identify yourself.

We’ve put our law enforcement people in an awkward position of trying to enforce a law that’s not really that clear. I’ve met with the attorney general of this state, Luther Strange, last week. He has come forward with some suggestions in changing the bill, and some of these we’re going to encompass into a bill that we’re going to introduce early on in the session.

BALDWIN: So perhaps the toughest immigration law in the land may no longer be that way if you have a little something to do with it. We’ll stay on this, Alabama state senator Gerald Dial. I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

DIAL: Thank you very much.

The GOP from top to bottom now has permission from Mike Hubbard to suggest revisions to HB56, the Alabama Anti-immigrant law. Irrespective of opinion on HB56, one thing has certainly been shown by this whole debacle: legislators and the public need time to read and study proposed bills before before a vote.

We learned how rushed HB56 was from Sen. Gerald Dial:

Sen. Gerald Dial, a Republican from Lineville, said, in comments to Centre, Ala.’s The Post on Nov. 16, that he got the immigration bill with just hours left in the legislative session and voted for it so as not to appear weak on immigration.

And Democrat Senator Marc Keahey (who voted for the bill too.)

Sen. Marc Keahey, D-Grove Hill, said the bill was rushed through the House and Senate because Republicans had the strength.

“This is a prime example of how a bill of this magnitude gets messed up when you only allow (Sen.) Scott Beason to read the bill,” Keahey said.

(Ignorance of the final version is no excuse for voting in its favor because the basic tenor and contents of HB56 was present in the pre-conference House and Senate versions.)

In the future, both the House and Senate should enact a 72 hour rule:  every bill will be posted online for at least 72 hours before it is presented for final vote. (Amendments for 24 hours)

Scott Beason always defended Section 28, the “your paper’s, please” for school enrollment provision of HB56, as quite benign:

According to Beason and other supporters of the law, Alabama taxpayers deserve an accurate assessment of how much they pay to educate the children of illegal immigrants.

I disputed this claim and suggested that the purpose was much for ambitious.

So it is not really just about statistics and when AG Luther Strange argued before a federal court that: “No child will be denied an education based on unlawful status,” he should have added “not yet.

The real purpose of Section 28 was to enable “a fresh challenge to Plyler v. Doe, and the idea that schools are obligated to provide a free education to illegal immigrants.”

Well, Luther Strange, the ALGOP Alabama Attorney General, admitted as much yesterday in his belated call to significantly revise HB56.

Section 28, which has also been blocked by the Eleventh Circuit, allows collection of data about the number of undocumented immigrants or their children in Alabama schools and requires a report of the costs of educating those students — both in fiscal terms and the effect on the quality of education on other students — to the Legislature, but makes it clear that those students cannot be denied a public education. Some have speculated that the purpose of this endless data collection was to eventually mount a legal challenge to various federal government requirements regarding who deserves a public school education, and the attorney general’s letter lends some credence to that argument.

It is my understanding that the purpose of Section 28 was to collect data for future litigation involving the State,” Strange wrote. “As chief law officer for the State, my judgment is that the costs of gathering this data at this point in time, in terms of diversion of resources and the effect this section has had on the current litigation, far outweigh any need to gather data for future litigation.

Strange suggested that section should be repealed.

Remember when the ALGOP touted the October drop in unemployment as evidence that HB56 was working. I questioned then (1) could we extrapolate anything from a single metric and (2) if it proved that HB56 worked, then a lot more undocumented immigrants were employed in government and professional services than we thought.

If you listen to talk-radio, one sector which is evidently overrun with undocumented immigrants and should be impacted by HB56 is the construction. industry.  I am looking forward to Rep. Hammon, Sens. Beason and Sens. Taylor tout this report. According to the Birmingham Business Journal:

The Birmingham metro area was one of the 146 U.S. metros that lost construction jobs in October, according to a new report. . .

Statewide, Alabama lost 6,100 jobs in that same period, bringing construction employment down 7 percent to 81,900, AGCA said.

(Wink, wink: I am being a little facetious here. An isolated metric does not reveal much by itself and certainly does show a causal relationship. I still think cherry-picking a few metrics is poor economic analysis; however, if the GOP wants to play the game, so can I.)

The conservative Mobile Press-Register calls for the repeal of the Alabama Anti-Immigrant law, HB56.

But we’d like to hear from Gov. Robert Bentley — and other corporate executives and officials, all of whom surely must see the folly in trying to enforce this radical law.

The more that supporters defend Alabama’s extremist stance, the more they sound like throwbacks to another era — one known for its poor treatment of people of a different color.

It’s time to call an end to the madness.

Alabama legislators will have to swallow their pride as they repeal the act they once touted as “the nation’s toughest immigration law.” But that’s a far better choice than ignoring the serious consequences that continue to unfold.