by The Opportunity Agenda, Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 10:30:00 AM EDT
On September 29, the Federal District Court in Birmingham upheld most of the sections of Alabama’s draconian immigration law in Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, et al. v. Bentley, et. al., and blocked some significant elements of this far-reaching law. The decision made by Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn clearly undermines the most fundamental American values of fairness and equality in that state. The law under review is considered by many civil and human rights activists and immigration advocates to be the harshest anti-immigrant law in the country.
Some of our partners have expressed a deep concern regarding the federal court’s ruling. Mary Bauer, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), said that “[t]his decision not only places Alabama on the wrong side of history but also demonstrates that the rights and freedoms so fundamental to our nation and its history can be manipulated by hate and political agendas – at least for a time.” The SPLC, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and other members of their coalition are appealing the decision.
In fact, the judge upheld a section of the law that requires local law enforcement to identify a person’s immigration status during arrests or traffic stops if an individual appears to be undocumented. The court also refused to block a requirement that public schools verify the immigration status of children and their parents. The judge, however, blocked other provisions of the law that would make it illegal for undocumented immigrants to work or to attend or enroll in public universities.
Several states have attempted to implement similar laws that potentially exacerbate economic woes in already troubled times, and their residents know the dire consequences such measures could bring. Advocates concur that, even though it’s crucial to fix our broken system at the federal level, the state’s new anti-immigrant law will cause more problems than solutions.
Unfortunately, draconian anti-immigrant laws and proposals are the product of a concerted effort in states across the country that seeks to demonize immigrants. Now more than ever, it is imperative to move a pro-immigrant narrative forward. We at The Opportunity Agenda work to construct a common-sense dialogue on immigration, and our research and experience tells us that a pathway to citizenship that will expand opportunity to everyone is possible.
Here are our talking points on immigration and other resources on the Alabama law:
- Talking Points: Real Solutions, American Values
- Talking Points: Enforcement Issues – Legislation
- Public Discourse on Immigration in 2010