(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- Until Thursday, Arizona had what many believed was the strictest anti-illegal immigration law in the nation. But not anymore.
Over the objections of civil rights groups, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed legislation that prevents illegal immigrants from either enrolling in or attending college, prohibits them from applying for or soliciting work, and makes it illegal for landlords to rent them property.
By contrast, Arizona's law imposes penalties on employers who hire undocumented aliens. The most controversial part of that statute -- allowing police to question citizenship status during a reasonable arrest -- is currently blocked and will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Alabama's law permits police to make a "reasonable attempt" to ascertain a person's citizenship and immigration status during any lawful "stop, detention or arrest."
The American Civil Liberties Union announced immediately after the Alabama governor signed the law that it would file a lawsuit to stop it. Al Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said Alabama's law would create "a modern-day trail of tears for immigrants in the state."
On the other hand, many are praising the law, including noted social conservative Phyllis Schlafly, who said Alabama had turned into "the leader in comprehensive immigration reform."
It's estimated there are 120,000 undocumented aliens among Alabama's population of 4.9 million people, most of them Latinos.
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