One week after a historic Immigration Summit hosted by Hispanic Evangelical leaders with delegates from across the nation, including representatives from President Obama’s administration, denominational leaders, pastors, local community leaders and pro-immigrant activists, convened to discuss Biblical solutions for the immigration crisis in America, U.S., District Judge Sharon Blackburn, last Wednesday, refused to block key parts of Alabama’s immigration law including a measure that requires immigration status checks of public school students—and in theory, paving the way for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of states passing their own immigration laws.
Federal law requires public schools to provide K-12 education to undocumented immigrants, but the Alabama law requires that schools verify the immigration status of children enrolling for the first time—Judge Blackburn’s ruling has created an atmosphere of fear within the Hispanic community causing 231 Hispanic children in Montgomery, Alabama’s state capital, and other students throughout the state, to be absent from school on Thursday, the first day the law went into effect.
In addition to the provision that requires public schools to check students’ immigration status, Alabama’s Immigration Law H.B. 56 also criminalizes giving an undocumented immigrant a ride, instructs police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop if they suspect the person of being an undocumented immigrant and requires employers to use E-Verify to check potential employees’ status—which, by most appearances, invites racial profiling not only by law enforcement officers but by landlords and employers.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (www.nhclc.org), also known as the Hispanic Evangelical Association, the nation’s largest Christian Hispanic organization which represents over 16 million Hispanic Evangelicals, said, “Alabama’s immigration law succeeds not in addressing the immigration crisis or offering a viable and sustainable solution but rather the law succeeds in fostering a spirit of racial and discriminatory practices. This law is anti-Christian, anti-Conservative and anti-American. It resurrects the old spirit of George Wallace and places Pastors and Clergy in peril as they reach out to all in their communities with the love of Christ.”
“The answer is to reconcile Leviticus 19 with Romans 13, compassion with the rule of law,” Rodriguez continued. “The answer is a ‘Just Integration’ solution that stops all illegal immigration, prohibits amnesty, deports those engaged in nefarious activities while facilitating an integration and legalization process for self-sustaining hard working individuals. The anti-immigration rhetoric needs to end and we call upon the Church and the Federal government to stand with a heart of righteousness and justice in approaching this, and other, anti-immigration state laws.”