Everyone's Shame: Alabama's HB56 and The War on Immigrants

By October 15, 2012News & Press

A report generated by the number of calls to a hotline hosted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was released by the National Immigration Law Center, listing complaints of bullying, discrimination, and racial profiling in Alabama. The report, Alabama’s Shame: HB56 and the War on Immigrants, lists more than 6,000 calls over the past 10 months.

Alabama’s immigration law, HB 56, instructs law officers to check an individual’s immigration status if the officer cites a “reasonable suspicion” that the detained person is not a legal immigrant. Unfortunately, a number of Latino residents of Alabama have found that HB 56 has given some people carte blanche to question them, and in some cases, behave discriminatorily toward them.

“Scores of Latinos called to report that they suspected they had been stopped by police, after the HB 56 provisions became enforceable, mainly because they look Latino — so that officers could question them about their immigration status,” states the report.

Included are stories such a couple who called police to report damage to a building they rent, and being questioned about their immigration status, and a man and two coworkers being stopped by police officers while walking and being asked to show papers, with no additional reason for being detained. Additionally, some complaints tell of children being taunted in school, and requests for proof of legal citizenship while purchasing retail items.

Opponents of HB 56 were concerned that such a provision could incite xenophobia. “The people in this report are the mothers, fathers and children living under a law that has given a nod and a wink to the worst prejudices harbored by some residents,” said author of the report and SPLC Legal Director Mary Bauer. “If lawmakers are unwilling to repeal HB 56 – knowing this is the type of misery they have created – we can only assume they intended to inflict this cruelty all along.”

According to the AFL-CIO, HB 56 has negatively impacted Latina women in particular, compounding the issues of domestic abuse by applying a chilling factor to asking for help or seeking refuge. A female victim of domestic violence went to the courthouse, according to their report, to seek a “protection from abuse”, but was asked about her legal status and was informed by a clerk that she would be reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Backers of HB 56 have stated that its purpose is to ensure that individuals who work and reside in Alabama do so legally. According to The Southern law Poverty Center, undocumented immigrants comprise just 2.5 percent of the population.

A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information filled web site at https://www.visatous.com.