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The federal government is intensifying the crackdown on the use of undocumented immigrant labor. On Wednesday, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement informed thousands of companies that their hiring records will be inspected.
But increasingly, it is the states that are becoming the new battleground in the debate about immigration. They are the ones that are taking tough steps to rein in illegal immigration. The latest move comes from the state of Alabama, which enacted a measure that goes further than those passed in other states and is sure to be confronted by a legal challenge.
Juana and her husband, Cesar, came from Guatemala and they have been living in Birmingham, Alabama, for more than a decade without proper documents. The only U.S. citizen in the family is their youngest daughter who is now 11 years old.
Cesar said that he understands he is not a legal resident or worker. He said, “I understand I don’t have visa when I come here. But I try to not make problem, just work, come home, pay the bills and that’s what I do with my family.”
Republican Gov. Robert Bentley last week signed a law that renders many aspects of the lives of the Guatemalan family – not just the landscape and construction work of Cesar or the housecleaning job of Juana – potentially criminal activity.
Their landlord is now prohibited by law to rent to illegal immigrants. They can be arrested if they are involved in a traffic accident or report a crime. Their son can never be enrolled in a public college. When their daughters return to public school, they will be required to furnish documents as to their immigration status, as well as that of their parents.