In June of 2011 Alabama passed what some describe as the harshest anti-immigration law in the United States. The Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection (HB 56) ”requires public schools to check students immigration status, criminalizes giving an undocumented immigrant a ride; requires employers to use E-Verify to check potential employees status, and instructs police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop if they suspect the person of being an undocumented immigrant.” The effect of HB 56 on children and families has been draconian.
The state claims the law is needed because “Alabama finds that illegal immigration is causing economic hardship and lawlessness in this state and that illegal immigration is encouraged when public agencies within this state provide public benefits with verifying immigration status.” Read the entire bill here.
We Belong Together, an initiative of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the National Asian Pacific American Womens Forum, believes Alabama’s anti-immigration laws deny basic human rights and access to basic human needs. To raise their voices in protest to this law, We Belong Together convened a national delegation to travel to Alabama, home to a rich history of civil rights in American history.
The We Belong Together Women’s Human Rights Delegation joined with other women working at the forefront of immigration rights in Alabama to become more educated on the negative impact of this state law. They sought to put a human face to the very real problems families experience as a result of HB 56. They learned of mothers being forced to identify friends to gather their children if they are randomly stopped, detained and not released. They learned that families live in fear that they will be separated from each other.
One delegate shared that an estimated 20-40 percent of Latino residents in Alabama live in mobile homes. HB 56, however, makes it illegal for an undocumented person to engage in business transactions. Yet as owners of mobiles homes, the law requires a licensing fee be paid for their homes. The way the law is written, because they are not to conduct business, it is illegal for them to pay their fees. It is also illegal for them not to pay the fees as their contractual obligations outline.
Since the interpretations of the law can be random, the courts recently issued a temporary injunction against this particular contradictory provision of the law, but various interpretations in other realms have resulted in families having their electricity, water and gas services shut off.
According to Cecillia Wang, Director of the ACLU Immigrants Rights Project, these results were “part of the legislative scheme to make life so difficult for immigrant families that they would ‘deport themselves.’”
In solidarity with immigrant families nationwide, We Stand Together is committed to using real life stories of families to educate the public that attacks on immigrants are violations of the fundamental human rights we all share.
Photo credit: cliff1066™