A state legislative committee in Alabama approved revisions to parts of its controversial immigration law on Tuesday.
One of those revisions expands the circumstances in which a police officer can check the status of an individual he suspects to be an illegal alien. Now, a police officer involved in a traffic stop can ask the passengers in an automobile about their immigration status.
The change sparked debate among lawmakers, some of whom brought up the issue of racial profiling in their arguments.
"My wife should not have to be checked because I receive a ticket," said democratic Rep. Napoleon Bracy.
Known as HB56, the law makes it a crime to be in the state illegally, and limits the state from entering into contracts with an illegal alien, complicating such mundane tasks as renewing a car tag.
A House committee relaxed other provisions in the law, including one that made it a crime for people to aid an illegal immigrant – including churches.
The law is considered one of the toughest in the country, and engendered outrage by citizens and privacy rights advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The state was sued by the U.S. Justice Department and various other organizations and individuals. Some parts of the law – including provisions that required immigrants to carry documentation – have been prevented from taking effect.