Politics

Alabama Library Requires Proof of U.S. Citizenship

| by Michael Allen

Since Sept. 1 (when Alabama’s immigrant law, HB 56, went into effect), the North Shelby County Library in Birmingham, Alabama, has asked people who wanted a library card to prove their legal status or citizenship.

Kay Kelley, the president of the library’s board of directors, defended the decision to AL.com: “We have to follow the rules that all businesses must follow.”

Kelley said a library card is considered a contract between an individual and the library. HB 56 requires businesses to be certain that the individual is in the United States legally, through a valid driver license or nondriver ID card, a valid passport or an unexpired visa. A valid U.S. birth certificate will also work.

The library is considered a public corporation, but operates as a nonprofit after the state legislature created the district in 1988, so it possibly falls under a provision in HB 56 that bans business transactions between the state and undocumented immigrants.

Before HB 56 went into effect on Sept. 1, anyone who lived in the district could get a library card by showing a picture identification with proof of residency, such as a driver's license or utility bill.