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J. Am. Ethn. Hist.


In his unfinished manuscript, “The Politics of Expulsion: A Short History of Alabama’s Anti-Immigrant Law, HB 56,” the late Raymond A. Mohl, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, directly and succinctly identified the true nature of the motivations behind the passage of HB 56 in the Alabama legislature. Professor Mohl observed that “nativist fears of large numbers of ethnically different newcomers, especially over job competition and unwanted cultural change, sometimes referred to as “cultural dilution,” provided political cover for politicians who sought to control and regulate immigration within state borders, but also to push illegal immigrants out.” By recognizing that HB 56 and other anti-immigrant laws that followed nationwide in the wake of SB 1070 were driven by racist and nativist politicians, Professor Mohl cut directly to the issue when he commented that “the state’s harsh, aggressive, and discriminatory anti-immigrant policy also brought back memories from a half-century earlier, when state-sponsored racial discrimination targeted African Americans.”