Monthly Archives: January 2014

Despite Legal Action, The Effects of HB 56 Live on

Despite Legal Action, The Effects of HB 56 Live On

Brian Padgett

In a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers affiliated with the University of Alabama Birmingham’s (UAB) School of Public Health conducted a study on the effects of H.B. 56 on minority groups and their health care decisions.[1] The primary finding of the study, conducted between May and July of 2012, is that HB 56 restricted access to health care because Latino and Latina persons (both immigrants and non-immigrants) thought that their ethnicity would complicate their efforts to acquire health care for both themselves and their U.S.-born children.[2]

HB 56, first passed in 2011, was modeled on an anti-immigration law passed earlier that year in Arizona. The law contained several provisions which were ultimately declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. These provisions included sections making it illegal for an illegal immigrant to apply for a job, prohibitions on offering immigrants transportation unless the driver ascertained their immigration status, and also forbidding the renting of personal property to illegal immigrants without confirming that the renter was not an illegal immigrant.[3] The remaining provisions of HB56 have also been under attack by the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups. These lawsuits have led to settlements between plaintiffs and the Alabama legislature, which have further limited the remaining provisions of HB 56.[4]

HB 56 was not billed as a health care law upon its passage, but the UAB study helps to show that complex laws that appear targeted at a particular group often haven unexpected, and mostly unknown, side-effects. The study noted that several Latina women who otherwise would have sought out medical care were unsure what documentation they needed to provide their doctors, and also if such documentation would be used against them later in immigration or removal proceedings.[5] Although the study was limited in scope, only involving thirty participants over a three-month period[6], it seems likely that concerns remain among immigrant groups regarding HB 56 and healthcare. Since the law has not been declared unconstitutional as a whole, confusion continues as to which sections remain in effect. Without large-scale education in immigrant communities regarding their access to health care, at least some Alabama residents will likely continue to forego healthcare due to concerns about HB 56.

[1] Kari White, Valerie A. Yeager, Nir Menachemi, and Isabel C. Scarinci.  (2014). Impact of Alabama’s Immigration Law on Access to Health Care Among Latina Immigrants and Children: Implications for National Reform. American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print. (accessed January 20, 2014).

[2] Id.

[3] Mike Cason, ‘HB56 Two Years Later: Settlement Takes Bite Out of Alabama’s Immigration Law.’ November 3, 2013.

[4] Id.

[5] Jesse Chambers, ‘UAB Study Says Alabama’s Immigration Law Keeps Latina Women and Kids From Getting Health Care,’ January 23, 2014.

[6] White et al., supra note 1.

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