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NPR’s “This American Life” Broadcasts Comprehensive Look at HB 56, Alabama’s Anti-Immigrant Law

by Van Le on 01/31/2012 at 2:47pm

this american lifeMore on Alabama and the HB 56 anti-immigrant law today: This American Life at NPR radio has a great broadcast entitled “Reap What You Sow” – a comprehensive story about life in Alabama under HB 56.

“Attrition through enforcement is when you make life so difficult, so unpleasant for immigrants that they choose to go home, they choose to self-deport,” the reporter intones.  He himself travels to Alabama, where he finds a state that forces every police officer to be in the business of busting the undocumented, where every encounter between a person and the state government is turned into a checkpoint, where every single day to day transaction involves checking a birth certificate.

He speaks with State Senator Gerald Dial (R-13), who supported HB 56’s passage but now supports its repeal, saying that the law is chilling foreign business investment.  He talks with Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson, who calls HB 56 a “waste of resources” – “because there’s actually crime in Tuscaloosa, and immigrants are not a criminal priority.”

“They’re not in my top 10, maybe not even in my top 20,” Anderson says. 

The reporter notes how “there is something hateful in the air now,” how documented and undocumented immigrants alike are stared at everywhere they go now, “as in, what are you still doing here?”

He speaks with undocumented immigrants, including one woman who was forced to “self-deport” herself and her U.S.-born children to Mexico in between the time he spoke with her and the time the story was ready.

He also has a chat with HB 56 sponsor, Alabama State Senator Scott Beason, as well as author of the bill Kris Kobach—who, despite everything, continue to champion the bill and defend its results.

Toward the end of the report, the reporter notes that Beason’s and Kobach’s goal of self-deportation “sounds so rational, so clean, like it’ll happen automatically.  You don’t have to do much, they’ll just go.  But of course it’s much messier, you’re talking about separating parents from their children.  It’s completely primal, the things that scare us most.  And that is the actual plan. To scare them.”

That’s HB 56, and the concept of self-deportation at work for you: ripping apart families and terrorizing immigrants in order to address a non-issue.

Listen to the full broadcast here.

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