Activists claim victory as Alabama agrees to gut anti-immigrant law

Activists claimed victory Wednesday after a plea deal reached in the southern US state of Alabama effectively stripped the harshest provisions from a state law restricting undocumented immigrants.

Among its many provisions, the measure allowed police to demand the papers of individuals they thought might be undocumented during encounters as routine as traffic stops, often catching legal residents in the law's crosshairs.

The agreement "significantly limits racial profiling under the law's 'papers, please' provisions that allow police to demand 'papers' of individuals they suspect are in the country without authorization," the civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said from its headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama.

The American Civil Liberties Union and state of Alabama reached an agreement on Tuesday on state law HB 56, which came into force in 2011 causing massive protests by undocumented immigrants and hundred of complaints by US citizens of Hispanic origin who were detained by local police.

Among other controversial provisions repealed under Tuesday's agreement were the requirement that schools verify the immigration status of enrolled children, prohibition of undocumented workers from soliciting work and criminalizing giving a ride or rent to undocumented immigrants.

The agreement follows in the wake of a Supreme Court decision to reject an appeal from Alabama, after a lower court had blocked parts of the law.

Supporters and opponents alike considered HB 56 one of the nation's harshest laws against undocumented immigrants.

"Now it is time for our state lawmakers to repeal the remnants of HB 56, and for our congressional delegation to support meaningful immigration reform that will fix our broken system," said SPLC attorney Sam Brooke.

[Policeman getting out from car on Shutterstock]