Alabama constitution says ‘immigration shall be encouraged’

The Birmingham News noted in an editorial Sunday that the Alabama state constitution, written in 1901, says the state should encourage immigration. This may come as news to state legislators who recently passed immigration restriction laws viewed as the strictest in the country.

From The News:

Here’s one we didn’t see coming: using the 1901 Constitution of Alabama to mount a legal challenge to the state’s new immigration law.

Even though some of us have waded through the morass of the state constitution on seemingly countless occasions, we somehow missed Section 30 in Article 1: “That immigration shall be encouraged; emigration shall not be prohibited, and no citizen shall be exiled.”

Critics of the law noticed the constitutional problem and have filed suit, calling the new immigration laws unconstitutional because they actually serve to discourage immigration.

A lawsuit filed this month in Montgomery Circuit Court argues the new immigration law subverts the state constitution because it “has the opposite effect of ‘encouraging immigration.'” The suit seeks to keep the entire law from going into effect. The state attorney general’s office told The Huntsville Times it will defend the law “vigorously.”

State legislators say they will defend the law and are prepared for setbacks.

The law is already having the desired effect of driving immigrants from the state, while perhaps having the undesired effect of also leaving many businesses scrambling to find workers.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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