Photo: The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
The Alabama Immigration policy, known as H.B. 56, signed into law by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley Thursday, is already being hailed as the most controversial immigration law and the most restrictive law against illegal immigration in the country. Advocacy groups, including The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, are promising to challenge the sweeping measure signed by Gov. Bentley on Thursday, which is being called even more severe than Arizona’s SB1070 law which is still being challenged in court. Alabama’s Immigration law is set to take effect September 1, 2011.
The Alabama measure instantly puts the state at the forefront of the immigration debate. Provisions in the new law state that public schools will have to confirm students’ legal residency status through birth certificates or sworn affidavits and illegal immigrants will be banned from attending state colleges. It will also be illegal to transport, harbor, or rent property to undocumented immigrants and it requires all businesses to check the legal status of workers using a federal system called E-Verify–which, by most appearances, invites racial profiling not only by law enforcement officers but by landlords and employers. The law also prevents cities from passing laws to protect undocumented immigrants in their cities.
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, said, “Alabama’s new 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.
“We call upon the bible believing Church in Alabama to rise up for righteousness and justice,” Rodriguez continued. “As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed in his letter from Birmingham, the followers of Christ did not rise up in Alabama in the matter consistent with our biblical mandate. This time silence is not an option. The answer to the immigration crisis in America lies in the Word of God. The answer is to reconcile Leviticus 19 with Romans 13, compassion with the rule of law. The answer is a Just Integration strategy 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.”
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez met this week with Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas and will be meeting with Republican Governors in order to offer the Just Integration Strategy as a practical solution to the immigration issue. Rodriguez presented the integration strategy in a meeting with President Obama one year ago. This year, the President incorporated Rev. Rodriguez’s verbiage in his recent presentations on immigration.
According to the Census, Alabama’s Hispanic population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010 to 186,000, or 3.9 percent of the state’s nearly 4.8 million people.
Linton Joaquin, general counsel for the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles, said the Alabama law covers all aspects of an immigrant’s life. “It is a sweeping attack on immigrants and people of color in general. It adds restrictions on education, housing and other areas. It is a very broad attack,” Joaquin said.
President of the NHCLC, Samuel Rodriguez, concluded, “At the end of the day, immigrants will revitalize the American Church, reaffirm the values of faith, family and hard work while enriching the collective narrative of our American experience. Sweet Home Alabama. This law says yes only if you don’t look like an immigrant.”