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.”

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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.

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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.