Politics

Alabama Law Denies American Children Food Stamps

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Five Alabama families reported individual instances of government workers denying them the food stamps their U.S.-born children are entitled to by law. These complaints, fielded by the Southern Poverty Law Center, highlight yet another unintended consequence of Alabama's new, draconian immigration law.

The law bars government employees from engaging in "business transactions" with persons suspected to be illegal immigrants, in essence creating a new affirmative responsibility on the part of public workers to make a determination of legal status for any ethnic person seeking aid.

Rather than risk felony charges, many government workers in Alabama have simply declined to conduct business with ethnic minorities unable to produce proof of citizenship -- transactions like processing food stamp and welfare benefits for children who were undeniably born in the U.S.

Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen says that his group has already filed two civil rights lawsuits relating to the Alabama law and says a third suit based on the recent accusations is likely.

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Certain aspects of the Alabama law are already on hold pending review by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, though the "business transactions" section isn't one of them.

Alabama recently joined three other states in enacting harsh immigration laws at the state level. The United States Justice Department has sued all of the rogue states on the grounds that their immigrations encroach on an area of reserved federal authority.

Arizona's controversial SB1070 is likely to serve as the bellwether case when the Supreme Court hears arguments about its constitutionality on April 25.