In Alabama, It Goes Like This: No ID, No Water

Be sure to click on that image to see the larger size. In case you can't, or it doesn't load, here's what it says:

Attention all water customers: To be compliant with new laws concerning immigration you must have an Alabama Driver's License or an Alabama picture ID card on file at this office before September 29, 2011 or you may lose water service. Thank you.

In other words, prove you belong here or get the hell out, because even if you pay your bill in U.S. dollars every month in person it won't matter. If you're not here legally, you don't deserve even the most basic necessities, like running water.

The reason this utility has posted their sign is because of this provision, which was upheld by the court (from brochure):

A part that requires people to prove their immigration status when they enter into a “business transaction” with the state of Alabama and makes it a felony for an unauthorized immigrant to enter into a “business transaction” with the state of Alabama. Business transactions include applying for a license plate, applying for or renewing a driver’s license, and applying for a business license.

A part that invalidates all contracts between an unauthorized immigrant and another person, except for one night’s lodging, food purchases, and medical services. Contracts could include child support, rental, loan, and other agreements

Yes. Other agreements like electricity, gas and water. A roof over one's head. Those kinds of agreements.

Now, I wonder. What happens if you're a 96-year old African-American lifelong Alabama resident who doesn't drive? Or, for that matter, a 96-year old caucasian resident of Alabama who doesn't drive? The requirements for identification are draconian, and my own experience with hunting down original source documents that far back is that in the Southern states especially, they're quite difficult to locate, if they exist at all. When I tried to track my great-grandfather's documents in Mississippi, I discovered a flood and fire had destroyed them all.

So how do elderly and poor people prove they were born here? Will they even be asked? My guess is that they will not be asked unless there's some reason for people in that particular town to want to deny their basic needs just out of spite or whatever.

Today, the Obama administration, along with a coalition of human rights groups, filed an appeal in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting a stay until the court has heard arguments and ruled. It appears that they're not in a hurry to issue a stay, saying they'd consider it after briefs are filed and argued next week.

To be clear, the term "ethnic cleansing" is not out of bounds here. What they are doing violates the basic human rights outlined by the United Nations; specifically, Article 25:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Oh, that's right. conservatives hate the UN, too. I'm starting to understand why.


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