You’ve probably heard that Alabama has begun implementing the harshest anti-immigrant law in the country. Their stated goal is to wipe every undocumented person from the state by putting such a squeeze on their communities that they are terrorized out. Police, public utilities companies and even elementary schools are authorized to report anyone they think may be undocumented. The chief tactic of the law is racial profiling and the goal is ethnic cleansing, plain and simple. After all, would you use a tactic like this to find tax absconders?
One terrified woman’s description of the climate manufactured by the nativists in Alabama says it all:
I was born in the United States. I know I have my American rights. But if I go outside people are going to think I’m illegal. I get scared because we have the color.
Insane reports are coming in from all over the state. The law requires schools to check the immigration status of students and their parents, and authorizes them to report any who they suspect might be undocumented. Understandably, that has led to terrified kids, mass absences, and scores of families abandoning their homes. Though officials say that school children have nothing to fear, the Montgomery Advertiser reports that one parent described what folks on the ground are hearing all over the state in an affidavit requesting an emergency stay of the law:
A Montgomery public school teacher asked a fourth-grader whether she was a legal resident, and later asked about the immigration status of the girl’s parents.
I heard the story before it was reported from an organizer down there who broke down crying while telling several of us the story. She also told us that a civil rights abuse hotline — set up by the Southern Poverty Law Center, National Immigration Law Center (NILC), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), MALDEF, Latino Justice, Asian Law Caucus — right after the implementation of the law began fielded over 1,000 calls in just two days. I can hear that teacher now: “just doing my job, just doing my part.” I have to admit that the organizer’s call left me pretty shaken up about where our country can so quickly go.
But according to the nativists, things are going according to plan – they like what they see.