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Vol. 75/No. 44      December 5, 2011

(front page)
Alabama immigrant rights
marchers: ‘We’re not leaving’
Militant/Sam Manuel
Protest in Montgomery, Ala., November 19 demands repeal of state’s anti-immigrant law.

MONTGOMERY, Ala.—Chanting “We’re here, we’re not leaving” in Spanish, some 300 immigrants and their supporters rallied at the state capitol here November 19 calling for repeal of the state’s new antiworker and anti-immigrant law, among the harshest in the country.

Jorge Núñez, a construction worker, drove to the rally from Birmingham with his family. “I want my kids to see that we have rights and we need to stand up for ourselves,” he said. “We are having a hard time finding work. We don’t need this bad law also.”

This was the final stop on a walk initiated by announcers at the popular Spanish-language radio station La Jefa through 14 cities over 14 days to protest the law known as HB 56.

José Antonio Castro, the station’s program director, said that while this is the last stop of this walk, immigrants and their supporters “will keep walking across this state and across this country until HB 56 is repealed.”

The rally was moderated by Gerardo Guzmán, La Jefa’s news director. He told the Militant the walk had been organized not only to reach immigrants but also to “have a dialog with all Alabamans about the law and the injustice it represents for all of us.” Guzmán said he thought it had been successful in changing the opinions of many people.

“A lot of discrimination that existed before and was fought by people like Martin Luther King and Fred Shuttlesworth has come back, but this time it’s Latinos,” Orlando Rosa, a La Jefa announcer, told the crowd. “We are reaching out to let everyone know that we will fight this law to the last day to get it repealed.”

“We have to rise up for our rights,” Evelyn Servin told rally participants to applause. Servin, a volunteer with Presente.Org, helped collect 50,000 signatures on petitions for repeal of the law.

Organizer’s encouraged everyone to attend a rally November 21 at the historic 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

The church was an organizing center of the massive struggle against Jim Crow segregation in that city. It was bombed by segregationists in 1963 killing four Black girls.

The Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act or, HB 56, like recent laws in Arizona, Georgia and other states, builds on existing federal law. Among the provisions, it instructs police to “determine the citizenship and immigration status” of anyone they stop and bans many contracts and business transactions with undocumented immigrants, including rental and home ownership agreements.

The utilities company in Decatur, Ala., has announced that it will start requiring proof of citizenship or legal residency for anyone applying for new accounts or for restoration of service after being shut off for nonpayment, reported the Decatur Daily.

State Rep. Micky Hammon from Decatur told the Decatur Daily that the goal of HB 56 is to prevent transactions between government agencies and undocumented immigrants. “It’s just an extension of the goal of the entire bill—to prevent illegal immigrants from coming to Alabama,” he said.

Hammon added that the law has a conspiracy clause that makes it a felony for anyone to assist an undocumented immigrant in conducting a transaction with a government agency.

According to the paper, the municipal utility company in Huntsville has also announced that it will prohibit services to undocumented immigrants. An official of the Decatur utilities agency said he expects that the state’s 35 other utilities will enact similar prohibitions.

A section of the law requiring schools to determine if each student is a legal U.S. resident “or is the child of an alien not lawfully present” was temporarily blocked by a federal court.
Related articles:
Alabama immigrant rights marchers: ‘We’re not leaving’
U.S. gov’t steps up attacks on undocumented workers
Chicago immigrant rights speakout slams Ala. arrests  
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