Alabama passed the toughest immigration legislation in the U.S. on Thursday, after Republican Governor Robert Bentley signed into law a bill that will require public schools, police departments and small businesses to crack down on illegal immigrants. “We have a real problem with illegal immigration in this country,” said Gov. Bentley. “I campaigned for the toughest immigration laws and I’m proud of the Legislature for working tirelessly to create the strongest immigration bill in the country.” The new law requires public schools to determine students’ citizenship and police to detain people they suspect of being illegal. It will also be a crime for citizens to “knowingly transport or harbor” an illegal immigrant, while businesses are required to use a new database to verify the citizenship of their employees. Immigration rights groups have called the new legislation draconian and will challenge it in court. “This law is an outrageous throw-back to the pre-Civil Rights era,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.