Representatives from the Front Lines Describe the Devastating Toll the Alabama Racial Profiling Law is Having on Families
At a press conference today on Capitol Hill, Alabama leaders and national civil rights and legal groups denounced Alabama’s new draconian racial profiling law, and called on Congress and the Administration to help put an end to the crisis unfolding in the state.
“HB 56 combines some of the most heinous, vicious, inhumane Jim Crow legislation of the 1950s, but it’s worse than that. It’s reminiscent of the Trail of Tears of the 19th century, when Native American families were forced to flee their homes. The Trail of Tears is not just figurative, it’s literal. There is a Trail of Tears in Alabama at this very moment,” said Scott Douglas, Executive Director of Greater Birmingham Ministries.
Since the law’s implementation, fear is spreading across Alabama’s communities. Children are leaving school, and families are being denied basic services like water and housing because they can’t produce proper documentation. Other families are fleeing the state because they are scared of being separated, singled out and discriminated against.
Janet Murguia, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza added, “Given its history, these concerns should give all Alabamians pause. They have been down this road before and it is not history that bears repeating. The Latino community is watching what is happening carefully, not only in Alabama, but in other states across the country as well. “
The law is affecting not only undocumented immigrants, but citizens and residents alike. It is encouraging racial profiling and inhumane treatment that is reminiscent of the darkest days of Alabama’s history. Today, speakers sent the message that this restrictionist, ugly vision for immigration “reform” is a bad reflection of our country and not a solution to our broken immigration system.
As Joanne Lin, Legislative Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, stated, “The Alabama law is a state-sanctioned racial profiling law that has gone into effect. If Alabama, Arizona, Utah, Indiana, Georgia, and South Carolina all devise their own immigration schemes, that will result in a patchwork of countless immigration systems, in essence a loose assemblage of mini-nations with their own fiefdoms. That is ungovernable, from an immigration, border, foreign relations, and international trade angle.”
“The impact of HB56 will continue to be felt throughout Alabama, including the more than 46,000 Asian Americans living there. We cannot tolerate laws that result in racial and ethnic profiling, and create fear and distrust among communities – not in Alabama or anywhere else,” said Erin Oshiro, Senior Staff Attorney at the Asian American Justice Center.
Last week, the 11th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals temporarily halted the implementation of two provisions of the law. However, the infamous “show me your papers” provision, which was blocked by district courts in Georgia and Arizona and in the Ninth Circuit, still remains in effect in Alabama. Under HB 56, local police are required to act as federal immigration enforcement agents by demanding proof of legal status from anyone who they suspect could be an unauthorized immigrant.
Marielena Hincapie, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center, affirmed, “Anti-immigrant proponents have announced their plans to take Alabama’s ‘model’ to states across the country, leaving devastated families, communities, and economies in their wake. We call upon legislators on both sides of the aisle to take a stand for our families, jobs, and communities, and reject this hateful and racist law.”
Mary Bauer, Legal Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, concluded, “My warning is that this is coming soon to a state near you, and you just don’t want it. In 20 years as a civil rights lawyer I have never grappled with a humanitarian crisis on this dimension. To carry out an assault–and it is an assault–on the backs of schoolchildren causes one to wonder. As one Alabama paper wrote, ‘what kind of people have we become?’”
For more information on the effects of the Alabama immigration law, visit:
- Ten Things to Know About Alabama’s New Immigration Law (America’s Voice Education Fund)
- Reactions from Alabama and a detailed explanation of the law (Center for American Progress)
- Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice website
- Collection of opinion pieces in opposition to the Alabama law (America’s Voice Education Fund)
America’s Voice Education Fund — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.