I try to keep things on this blog limited to posts that are related to writing or reading, but sometimes it just can’t be done. Sometimes you have to address larger issues at hand.
For me, one of those larger issues is Alabama’s new immigration law, which took effect last week. The measure, HB 56, is touted by lawmakers as “the toughest immigration law in the country” brings Alabama back to the days of Jim Crow. With our state’s history, I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to pass this racist, idiotic piece of legislation.
Before I get into my rant, please know that I understand that illegal immigration is a huge problem, and that something should be done to address it. However, this law ain’t it.
This bill allows police to detain anyone they suspect MAY be an illegal immigrant. That means that legal residents and even citizens can be detained because they appear or speak differently.
One of my best friends is a guy named Alberto. He’s the godfather to my son. He holds dual citizenship in Mexico and the United States. Because he speaks with a slight accent, he could be detained on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant. It’s something he fears, and I can’t blame him. His own country is targeting him and people like him. Don’t believe me? It’s already happening:
http://blog.al.com/wire/2011/10/man_detained_in_gadsden_under.html (Opens in new window.)
Any immigration law that targets legal residents or citizens is wrong. Period. End of story.
But there’s more: The law, as written, bars anyone from giving aid or even a ride to illegal immigrants. Alabama is the very buckle of the Bible belt, so you would think that more people here would be Christian in nature, and do as we were taught in Sunday school. Lawmakers have either forgotten or never heard the story of the Good Samaritan. The law’s intent is to stop people from transporting illegals across state lines, but its ham-handed wording means that now anyone who tries to help a stranger could be breaking the law.
A group of clergy have sued to stop the law. (New window) And rightly so. Parts of the law were struck down by a U.S. District judge (including the parts that made it illegal to give aid), while the majority of the law was allowed to stand.
The most disturbing parts of this new law, though, affect children. Hispanic families, whether they’re illegal or not, are keeping their kids home from schools because the state is forcing schools to gather and report data about children who may be part of “undocumented” families.
This law is about three things, and illegal immigrants don’t even make the list. This law is about fear. People are scared. The economy is bad. Jobs and benefits are constantly being chopped by companies who want to be leaner and meaner. We live in fear that our jobs could be next, and then what happens? This law is about anger. We see people come in and take “our jobs” (even though the majority of the jobs illegals do are jobs that no one else wants), and it makes us angry. And lastly, this law is about race. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. People are scared of others who don’t look like them or don’t speak their language.
And the law is going to be a disaster for the state financially. Let’s not talk about the false imprisonment and unlawful detainment lawsuits that the state will have to defend. Instead think about the farmers whose crops are rotting in the fields because no one is there to pick them.
You want jobs? Here they are. Come get ’em. (New window)
Yeah, nobody else wants those jobs. That’s why those positions are going unfilled.
But the bottom line is this: HB 56 is the most racist thing my state has done in my lifetime, and I’m ashamed of it. Everyone involved in passing this bill needs to be high-fived. In the face. With a shovel.