New Alabama immigration law impacts military, Families
November 10, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 10, 2011) -- Do you know where your birth certificate is? If not, it's probably time to go find it.
Because of a new law designed to crack down on illegal immigration, card-carrying members of the U.S. military, their Family members and Department of the Army civilians can expect to provide proof of citizenship in order to get services in the state of Alabama now, including getting an Alabama driver's license.
House Bill 56, (a.k.a. the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act), which is still being challenged but has passed into law, impacts Fort Rucker and will continue to do so on a rolling basis, said Capt. Megan Mueller, officer in charge of client services for Fort Rucker's Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.
"It's not going to impact everyone all at once. It just depends on if you're purchasing a new vehicle, or if your vehicle tags are about to expire. It might impact people more in the spring when they're going to get their boat registered," Mueller said.
The idea is that illegal immigration is causing economic hardship on the state of Alabama. To lessen that impact, the state of Alabama now requires people to provide proof that they are in the U.S. legally when the state provides services to them. An out-of-state driver's license and military identification are not accepted as proof of citizenship, she said.
A major impact to Fort Rucker deals with documentation requirements for vehicle registration, mobile home registration, boat registration, "anything you need a tag for," Mueller said.
"If you have an Alabama driver's license, you're good to go. If you have an out-of-state license, what you have to bring with you is a birth certificate, a passport, or if you weren't born in the U.S. you need to bring some document showing your immigration status -- a visa, green card, or naturalization document. If you're Native American, a tribal enrollment card is good enough," she said.
An exception to this is if the out-of-state license shows the person's citizenship was verified.
Military documents that show the person's place of birth will be accepted, but at this point it is still undecided what those are, Mueller added. The law also impacts students registering for public school.
For HB56, it's the felony part that has state officials worried.
"The law makes it a felony for any state official to accept documentation that's not allowed under the law. It's not a campaign against us. The revenue office is just on such strict limitations from the state for what they can do right now. It's an evolving process," Mueller said.
The law is currently being appealed, but the documentation requirement is upheld.
The problem for military types is the transient nature of the job.
"If you live in Alabama, you were born and raised here, or you're a permanent resident here, you've probably got all your stuff with you so you could probably go home and dig up your birth certificate. But since our Soldiers are moving around so often, they might have one place where they keep all their documentation permanently. They might not have it with them and may have to go get it," Mueller said.
Coming up with that documentation can take time and include a cost.
"You've got to think about all the documents you need and plan ahead," Mueller said.
The law does not impact foreign students who have a foreign military ID.
For more information, contact the Fort Rucker OSJA office at 255-3482.