01/23/2012

Warning to Lawmakers Considering State Anti-Immigrant Bills: Remember Alabama

With a new year upon us, many state legislatures across the country will be convening. Some may attempt to follow in the steps of Alabama by passing harsh, anti-immigrant legislation. Before they do, they should remember Alabama.

Remember Alabama and its lawmakers.

They promised a better tomorrow, but their law left crops rotting in the fields. Farmworkers – regardless of their immigration status – fled the state rather than live under this law. Farmers were left searching for workers as their livelihoods teetered in the balance. Today, farmers from outside Alabama visit the state to see the damage first-hand.

Remember Alabama and its businesses.

 

A state that once made headlines for attracting international automakers is now making headlines as police detain their foreign employees – employees with every right to be here. Neighboring states that once questioned how they could compete with Alabama for international companies can breathe easier now.

Remember Alabama and its Latino residents.

Sadly, some Alabamians believe this law gives them the right to harass and discriminate. U.S. citizens have told us of enduring taunts of “Go home to Mexico!” simply because they are Latino. It’s no surprise that some Latinos born and raised in the United States say they now feel unwelcome and less American.

Remember Alabama and the fear it has spread.

Families have lived in fear of being broken up, losing their homes and jobs. Latino children have been pulled from school. Others have been harassed by classmates. And there’s the constant fear that a routine traffic stop can turn into a harrowing ordeal – even if you have your “papers” in order.

Remember Alabama and its legal battles.

Legislators pushed forward with a law that has mired the state in a protracted legal battle with the Department of Justice and an array of civil rights organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center. The state is now spending its limited resources to defend the indefensible.

But when you remember Alabama, also remember the people willing to stand up and make their voices heard – people of conscience who came from across the state and the country to protest an unjust law. People who recognize that a person’s immigration status doesn’t absolve us from affording them basic human dignity. Their efforts have put the eyes of the world on Alabama. But these people of conscience are still needed in Alabama. While our lawmakers are taking a second look at this law, they are stubbornly refusing to repeal it.

We also need people of conscience to step up and be heard anywhere lawmakers introduce bills that will take a state down the same disastrous path. We need you to make your voice heard in your state capital. We need you to be vigilant. Question your lawmakers. Push beyond their talking points. Hold them accountable. And ask them to remember Alabama.