Immigration law is highly complex. Determining which non-citizens are “lawfully” or “unlawfully” present and whether they should be allowed to stay in the United States are complex matters which involve the interpretation of a range of federal laws and regulations, broad policy considerations, and prioritization of existing resources, to name just a few considerations.
Alabama and other states that have passed harsh anti-immigration laws don’t understand this complexity. State legislators seem to want a fast, simple answer to the question of whether someone is lawfully or unlawfully present in the United States. These states are planning to lean heavily on the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program or some other system of verification, such as E-verify, as the mechanism for determining whether someone is unlawfully present in the country.