NYT's Campbell Robertson Takes Another Crack at Alabama Crackdown on Illegals

New Orleans-based New York Times reporter Campbell Robertson did his best to portray Alabama's popular crackdown on illegal immigrants as under threat, and displayed some labeling disparity in Friday's "Alabama Governor Urges Changes to Latest Immigration Law."

Back in October 2011, Robertson melodramatically described the aftermath of passage of the law, some aspects of which have since been held up in federal court: "The vanishing began Wednesday night, the most frightened families packing up their cars as soon as they heard the news....In certain neighborhoods the streets are uncommonly quiet, like the aftermath of some sort of rapture." Today Robertson wrote:

Gov. Robert Bentley of Alabama called a special legislative session on Thursday and urged lawmakers to consider changes to the state’s far-reaching immigration enforcement law, less than a day after legislators voted to keep most of that law intact.

The passage of the bill on Wednesday, as protesters sang outside the legislative chambers and in several cases were dragged away in handcuffs, was a victory for the most determined supporters of the original law.


The law remains generally popular in the state but has drawn criticism from civil rights groups, church leaders, local law enforcement officials, state business groups and some Alabama residents who complain of the new rules governing routine transactions.

The Justice Department has sued Alabama, arguing that the law is unconstitutional, and enforcement of some sections has been temporarily suspended by federal courts. Most of the law is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which is holding off its ruling until the fate of Arizona’s immigration enforcement law is decided by the Supreme Court. The justices are expected to issue a ruling by the end of June.

Since the Alabama law went into effect last summer, lawmakers have acknowledged what they call “unintended consequences” and for months have been discussing the scope and nature of changes to the law.

Robertson pitted "civil rights groups" versus "conservative organizations" like the Tea Party.

Neither proposal was welcomed by civil rights groups, but Mr. Beason’s version was preferred by Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations in the state. To the frustration of some high-ranking Republican lawmakers, what passed on Wednesday amid a flurry of last-minute legislation at the end of the session was very close to Mr. Beason’s version.