When the Alabama law passed, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley gave himself a pat on the back and said “Today is a victory for Alabama…During my campaign, I promised a tough law against illegal immigration, and we now have one.”
That tough law is also Alabama’s cruelest. Yesterday, America’s Voice highlighted some of the immigrant abuse in Alabama on a call that featured some of the key players in the fight against HB 56. Speaking to bloggers was Reverend Angie Wright, Faith in Communities Coordinator of Greater Birmingham Ministries; Vanessa Stevens, Communications Coordinator, Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA); Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director, Center for Community Change; and Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.
Rev. Angie Wright began by discussing the impact of HB 56 and the consequences of having such a law. “The parts that are still in effect and are of most concern are the racial profiling aspects of the law,” she said, “which is causing tremendous fear and terror in the immigrant communities.” She noted that in Alabama, it is now a Class C felony for any undocumented immigrant to do business or have any kind of contract with state government, meaning that undocumented immigrants can now face up to 10 years in prison or $15,000 in fines for applying for a car tag or water service.
According to Deepak Bhargava, HB 56 is part of strategy to tap into fear and hysteria, and emphasized that it’s critical that the nation ask Republicans where they stand on the issue. “Why isn’t there more outrage (in America) over what is happening in Alabama?” he asked, adding that if there is not an outcry, there is potential to see this played out–at great human cost around the country.
Also on the call, Vanessa Stevens shared stories from people who have been affected by HB 56. She read an excerpt of an email she received from a woman in Florence, Alabama — a US Citizen — who fears that her undocumented husband will be deported:
“My husband is Mexican and my children are part Hispanic and it makes me feel like they are being racist towards me and my family,” she read, “And my husband has family here as well. I am outraged and it breaks my heart. The people who are here are just trying to make a better life for themselves, and should be able to stay and live their lives.”
The U.S. Department of Justice has asked a federal appellate court to block enforcement of parts of Alabama’s new immigration law, but Alabama is fighting it with every cent they don’t have. Marielena Hincapié, executive director of NILC noted that her organization and its allies, including the ACLU and SPLC, have asked the 11th Circuit for an emergency stay, pending appeal. On the call, she acknowledged that the 11th Circuit is conservative, and that this law could very well end up before the Supreme Court.
Alabama would have done well to take a lesson from its own ugly history, which is not worth repeating. That is all too late, as Marisa Trevino writes in her piece at Latina Lista:
How sad that Alabama’s ugly past is rearing its head again and has found a new group of people to prey upon with discrimination, prejudice and terror.
Only this time, they feel emboldened to do it without the sheets.
You can listen to the call here: