By Phillip Rawls
June 28, 2012
Some state regulatory boards aren’t abiding by a requirement in Alabama’s immigration law that they check the legal residency of people getting licenses to do business in the state.
The state Examiners of Public Accounts issued reports saying the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board and the Alabama Manufactured Housing Commission have "not taken action to comply with state law that requires its licensees to be either United States citizens or lawfully present in the United States."
John Norris, director of the examiners’ operational division, said Thursday that most state boards his office checked are trying to implement the law that took effect in September 2011.
He said the two noted in new audit reports are the first cited by the examiners, but other audit reports are in the works that will mention a few others.
The examiners review state boards and agencies every two years to check their finances and their compliance with state laws. The examiners’ audits were first reported by WSFA-TV.
Jim Sloan, executive director of the Manufactured Housing Commission, said its attorney advised it to hold off because of legal challenges to the law and because the Legislature was considering changes, which were passed last month.
He said the commission was asking the 900 manufacturers, retailers and installers that it licenses for copies of their driver’s licenses.
"It’s a requirement you be legal if you get a driver’s license," he said.
He said the commission is now working to get into compliance with the law.
Chip Carden Jr., executive director of the Home Builders Licensure Board, said it held off for the same reasons and because of the cost of reprogramming its computer database and reprinting forms.
He said most of its 8,000 licenses are issued on Oct. 1, which was only a few days after the law took effect.
"We fully intend to comply," he said.
Republican state Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale, one of the authors of Alabama’s immigration law, said, "There is a problem with bureaucracies not wanting to enforce the law."
With the examiners now checking for compliance, "hopefully people will get up to speed," he said.
Alabama’s immigration law is called the nation’s toughest by proponents and opponents. It requires a person seeking a professional license from a state board to provide an affidavit declaring citizenship before a license is issued. It also provides that applicants who are not citizens must be verified as lawfully present through the federal government’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program. That portion of the law was not put on hold by any of the federal courts that have considered legal challenges to the law.
Those legal challenges are pending at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The court is moving ahead with the challenges after putting everything on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday on Arizona’s law, which was a model for Alabama.