06/06/2012

Southern Poverty Law Center Re-Launches Anti-Immigrant Law Hotline for Ala.

Para leer este artículo en español, oprima aquí.

The Southern Poverty Law Center re-launched a hotline today for people to report problems and abuses they have experienced as a result of Alabama’s draconian anti-immigrant law.

Alabamians are urged to share their stories about the state’s anti-immigrant law and learn more about changes to the law by calling 1-800-982-1620.

“State lawmakers have callously refused to address the humanitarian crisis created by Alabama’s anti-immigrant law,” said Mary Bauer, legal director for the SPLC. “As we continue our fight against this unconstitutional law, we want to know first-hand the suffering it is inflicting on people across the state.”

The hotline was established in September, days after a court allowed some of the worst provisions of the law – HB 56 – to take effect. During the first week, the hotline received 1,000 calls detailing issues faced by immigrants, regardless of their status. It has now received more than 5,800 calls with stories illustrating the humanitarian and economic crisis created by the law.

Earlier this year, the SPLC cited some of these stories in its report, Alabama’s Shame: HB 56 and the War on Immigrants, as evidence that HB 56 attacks the basic human dignity of all Latinos. The report can be read here.

Although the hotline has been maintained since September, recent changes to the state’s anti-immigrant law and the problems these changes created spurred the SPLC to remind residents the hotline is still available.

Many Alabama lawmakers admitted the law created “unintended consequences,” but rather than address those problems during the recent legislative session, they created a new law – HB 658 – that is even more extreme and punishing. It includes a provision that requires the state “to post a quarterly list of the names of any undocumented alien who appears in court for a violation of state law, regardless of whether they were convicted.”

“This latest change in the law is nothing more than an attempt to bully and intimidate people, and serves only to encourage vigilantism,” Bauer said. “We encourage people to report problems they have faced because of the law – no matter how big or small.”

The SPLC is part of a coalition of civil rights organizations that answer calls to the hotline. Other coalition members include the National Immigration Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and Latino Justice.