Monday, December 12, 2011

Following confusion about new immigration law, Alabama police must complete training

Alabama is requiring more than 16,000 law officers to complete special training regarding the state's new immigration law as a result of confusion in trying to enforce the laws, The Associated Press reports. Police chiefs, prosecutors and judges all say the law is hard to understand due to its lengthy, complicated provisions, and the federal court rulings blocking some sections – like the provision requiring public schools check citizenship of students – making it even harder for officers to interpret and administer the law.

Training is supposed to aid officers in interpreting the law and will focus specifically on frequently used sections of the law including "detaining people who lack proper identification, Alan Benefield, head of Alabama's Police Officers' Standards and Training Commission,  told AP. Course materials explain the law "does not authorize state, county or municipal agencies to seek out 'illegals' for deportation" and instead shows officers how they "should operate under the law.

Sometimes officers properly interpret the law, like the officer who arrested a German manager with Mercedes-Benz for not having a driver's license while driving a rental car. The charges were dismissed after the man provided appropriate documentation. In another incident, a Japanese worker for Honda Manufacturing was wrongly cited. He was ticketed at a routine roadblock even though he had a valid passport and international driver's license. The law states passports with valid stamps should be accepted by police as proof someone is in the country legally. "Statehouse Republicans said descriptions of the incident didn't appear to match up with the law itself, which doesn't include a provision for ticketing someone," AP reports. (Read more)

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