A bill that could further clamp down on illegal immigrants is making its way through the Alabama legislature. It's an Arizona-style immigration law that would make it harder for illegals to get a job, apply for benefits, or vote.
But some opponents of the bill say this could encourage racial profiling.
Theodore, Alabama [just west of Mobile] is a long way from the Mexican border, but in 2006 that border agents stood watch, looking for illegal immigrants.
Agents let a FOX10 News crew ride along with them.
Sure enough, border agents detained some illegal immigrants along I-10 who were looking for work in the area.
Last April, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer approved one of the toughest illegal immigration laws in the country. It empowered local law enforcement to help detain and deport illegals.
Other states are considering similar measures and back in November, the Republican Party made some big gains in state legislatures across America. The issue has been pushed back into the limelight and Alabama is considering jumping on the bandwagon.
The bill would make it harder for illegals to get jobs and apply for benefits. It would even make it a felony for illegals to vote.
The bill would allow local police to administer the law.
"It'd be much better for the federal government to take care of it, but since they're not, the state needs to take it up," one man said.
But some say the tougher laws are unfair.
"They're working so let them work. They got a family to take care of too," said one woman.
Last week, 200 protesters rallied outside the Alabama State House. One man carried a sign in Spanish that read: 'We are workers, not criminals.' Another person's sign said 'We are all immigrants.'
Advocates say this law can unfairly target the Hispanic community. But the language of the bill gives explicit instructions as to how law enforcement can crack down on illegals.
Some have no problem with immigrants in this country, just as long as they've earned their keep.
"I don't mind people being here from other countries that are on the same level as we are," says Georgia resident Larry Helms.
Helms owns a lawn care business and is competing against companies that hire illegals.
"A lot of times they can hire illegals and pay them a whole lot less than we can afford to pay our workers 'cuz we have workers' comp and comprehensive insurance and all the other required licenses," said Helms.
Illegal immigrants are a real issue in south Alabama, and the legislature is debating what it can do.
The bill will be on the House agenda when lawmakers return from spring break on March 22.