UA Celebrates Constitution Day with Debate on State’s Immigration Law
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In honor of Constitution Day, The University of Alabama will host a debate on the state’s immigration law Monday, Sept.17 at 3 p.m. in the Ferguson Center Theater on the UA campus.
Two teams of students will debate whether Alabama’s immigration law, H.B. 56, is within the state’s authority or is preempted by the federal government’s power over immigration. The debate will focus on section 27 of the law, which prohibits Alabama courts from enforcing any contract made by someone in the country illegally.
“This provision is important, because it means that if an undocumented alien signed a rental contract, a work contract or an agreement to purchase something, and the other party to the contract didn’t fulfill their obligations, the alien would not be able to use the state courts to have the contract enforced,” said Dr. Joseph Smith, an assistant professor of political science who is coordinating the debate. “The provision makes it much easier for unscrupulous people to disregard the promises they make to undocumented aliens.”
The two teams will consist of students from Smith’s course on constitutional law and another team of students from UA’s Mock Trial team, coached by James Todd, an attorney who is also a doctoral student in UA’s department of political science. Smith’s team will argue that Alabama has overstepped its authority in passing section 27, while Todd’s team will argue that section 27 is a valid exercise of state authority.
Constitution Day commemorates the signing of the United States Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. The day recognizes the accomplishment of the men who wrote the document and reminds Americans to reflect upon their liberty. The event is coordinated by UA’s College of Arts and Sciences.
The College of Arts and Sciences is the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Its students have won national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All American Team.
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.