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Attention to Alabama's "Show Me Your Papers" Anti-Immigrant Law Grows

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As GOP Primary Comes to AL, Draconian Law the Focus of Federal Courts & Wide Array of Opposition Voices

The nation’s eyes are turning towards Alabama, as a series of developments with the state’s “show me your papers” anti-immigration law intersect with political dynamics surrounding the upcoming Republican presidential primary and general election. 

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “As political observers turn their attention to the Republican primary in Alabama next week, they shouldn’t miss the fact that this state will have a huge impact on the 2012 elections.  Alabama may be safe GOP territory, but it is also an example to Latino voters of what the Romney ‘self-deportation’ plan looks like in real life.  Recent polling and analysis from leading GOPers shows that the Republicans’ anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric have made them toxic to Latino voters, with big consequences in swing states in November.”   

Among the recent news and developments drawing attention to Alabama:

  • Court blocks two provisions of Alabama’s immigration law:  Yesterday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked two provisions of Alabama’s immigration law, reminding us yet again of the state’s unprecedented overreach.  As the Montgomery Advertiser noted, “A federal appeals court Thursday blocked two sections of Alabama’s immigration law, which is known as HB 56, including one that had been partially enjoined by a U.S. District Judge in Montgomery.  The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined Section 27 of the law, which forbids Alabama courts to enforce contracts between unlawfully present aliens and parties who know their immigration status.  The appellate court also blocked Section 30 of the law, which forbids state and local agencies from doing business with undocumented aliens.”  Yesterday’s ruling adds another reminder about the importance of the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court examination of the Arizona “papers, please” law – the precursor to Alabama’s legislation.
  • Immigrant and civil rights leaders join forces in effort to repeal state’s anti-immigration lawCivil rights, immigrant rights, and labor leaders from throughout the nation are joining with an array of state leaders to protest the Alabama anti-immigration law.  The Associated Press notes that young people and first time protestors have joined the historic Selma-to-Montgomery march this year, inspired by the Alabama anti-immigration laws similarity to Jim Crow-era policies. 
  • Mother Jones offers detailed portrayal of the consequences and architects of Alabama’s immigration approach:  A special report in the March/April issue of Mother Jones, called “Inside The Self-Deportation Movement,” documents how “self-deportation” has been the rallying cry for a coordinated effort led by Mitt Romney adviser Kris Kobach and state legislators in Arizona, Alabama and other states – an effort to make undocumented immigrants as miserable as possible and attempt to force them to leave on their own.  Mother Jones profiles some of the demagogic politicians and interest groups devoted to making this policy a reality; the wave of anti-immigrant state laws they’ve proposed and passed; and the economic and humanitarian toll these laws have already had on Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia.  The report is well worth a read.  America’s Voice Education Fund has created a summary document, highlighting key excerpts and details unearthed by the magazine’s coverage, available here.
  • What will role of immigration be in run-up to Alabama’s Republican presidential primary on March 13th?  With the Republican presidential primary process continuing to unfold, the race comes to Alabama next Tuesday – the state with the most delegates at stake among the four locations holding GOP primaries or caucuses that day.  Given the salience of Alabama’s immigration law, it will be important to watch and see whether Mitt Romney and the other candidates embrace HB56 as a “model” for the nation – as Romney did in regards to Arizona’s immigration law before that state’s recent primary.  HB 56 is the Romney self-deportation policy in effect, written by his immigration advisor Kris Kobach.  As Pema Levy of Talking Points Memo highlighted, “As the GOP primary looks toward next week’s contest in Alabama, home of the harshest anti-immigrant law in the country, the immigration issue is certain to rear its head again.  And Mitt Romney and the other candidates have a choice: double-down on anti-immigrant rhetoric, or begin to show a softer, more general election-friendly side…The Alabama primary comes just as the effects of the GOP primary’s immigration rhetoric are becoming clear.  On Monday, a poll from Fox News Latino indicated immigration was a key contributor to the Latino community backing off its support for the GOP.  The poll showed that Latino voters favor President Obama over the GOP field 6 to 1 — that’s better than Obama did with Latinos in 2008, and means Republicans are doing worse than John McCain did. In head-to-head match-ups with Obama, no Republican candidate got more than 14 percent of the Latino vote.”

The role of Alabama in national politics will be the focus of a press call next Monday, March 12th at 12 PM, as immigrant reform experts and leaders from religious and immigrant youth communities will address the devastating toll that “self deportation” policies like Alabama’s HB 56 have had on Latino families, and the way this issue moves Latino voters.  Alabama is a real world case study of the Romney policy, playing out on the ground.   To join next Monday’s call, dial 1-800-895-4790; Passcode: SELF-DEPORT

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.