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With Anti-Immigrant HB 56, “Alabama Is Revisiting Its Darkest Pre-Civil Rights Traditions”

by Mahwish Khan on 10/11/2011 at 10:33am

Our colleague, Maribel Hastings, who has been in Alabama for the past week, wrote a very powerful column, which appeared in The Guardian over the weekend. It’s definitely worth a read, highlighting the very human toll the new anti-immigrant law is having. The piece is titled “Sweet Home Alabama No More,”  and the subhead captures the reality: ”With a minority population terrorized by this racist HB56 law, Alabama is revisiting its darkest pre-civil rights traditions.”

An excerpt:

One young father from Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico told me, through tears, that his 12-year-old son, who is undocumented, has always been an honor student who recently won a school trip to go to the Space Museum in Huntsville. He didn’t go, because he was afraid the police would detain him.

“We don’t have much time to think it over … maybe we can get our affairs in order here in two or three weeks and see what our options are, maybe moving to another state, or straight to Mexico,” the father said. Some families don’t dare to leave the house, even to get basic items like food. The church deacon said that he knew people who had gone days without leaving to buy groceries; he had offered to bring them food himself. Those who do leave the house do so knowing the risk they take.

“We leave the house afraid. We cross ourselves – we wonder if we will come back home again,” one young mother from Michoacán told me. “It’s very hard. We wanted to make another life for ourselves, but we’re not allowed. We hope that their hearts will be turned and they’ll let us stay here, at very least for our children, who were born here.”

This is exactly what the law doesn’t take into account. It claims to target undocumented immigration, but ignores the fact that much of the immigrant community is comprised of “mixed status” families: undocumented parents with native-born US citizen children, who are already suffering the effects of the law. Some immigrants have reported being denied basic utilities, like water and electricity; some, including pregnant women, are afraid to go to the doctor even though they are sick, for fear of being detained; some don’t dare bring their US citizen children to the doctor, for fear of being detained.

After reading that, Maribel’s conclusion proves shamefully accurate:

And so, in “Sweet Home Alabama”, history is repeating itself – a shameful history of outrages against civil rights.

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