Southern Inhospitality: Alabama HB 56

14 Jun
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The angry elephants of Alabama. Photo from:

If you thought AZ SB1070 was bad, you haven’t seen nothing yet… Alabama HB 56, Salon, 6/10/11
HB 56, a “sweeping attack” on Latinos in Alabama will impact people’s ability to obtain or access housing, education, transportation, and employment. Here are some of the low-lights of the legislation that was passed with an overwhelming majority in the state senate and state assembly:

  • Like AZ SB 1070, it requires police to check immigration status of suspected undocumented people (read: brown skin)
  • Makes it against the law to knowingly transport an undocumented person
  • Makes it against the law to rent to undocumented families
  • Requires schools to verify immigration status of both students and parents

As mentioned in the AP version, the law will spread fear and terrorize the 4% of the state that is Latino during a period when 9.3% of the state is unemployed. Most Latinos are working in the agriculture industry, and if Georgia provides an example, we can soon expect an exodus of these Latino laborers from Alabama. Clearly, racism is more important then economic wellbeing. Alabama joins other economically depressed states, such as AZ and GA, who have decided to make life less pleasant for their labor force.  It seems that pitting poor white and black communities against immigrants for a few scraps has been a successful political strategy for Southern conservatives. Meanwhile the state will suffer even more costs as it pays to implement the law and defend it in court.
In the end, isn’t that the essence of the immigration debate? Find the groups with the least power and blame current problems on them. The challenge now is to flip the script  and acknowledge that all people in the U.S. share common challenges (social inequities) and rise together. Wealthy individuals and corporations have more than enough to contribute to social welfare programs that would raise everyone’s quality of life.
As we saw last week, there are many state legislators who are working to make this a reality. There needs to be two approaches that are equally important: 1. Identify threats to the wellbeing of immigrants and 2. Highlight approaches that seek to restore rights of immigrants. To have a healthy society we must promote policies and programs that protect people’s health, by protecting peoples civil rights. 

Other news…
Why immigrants are good for the economy, The Atlantic, 6/10/11
Two key findings of Brookings Institution report on the impact of immigration in the economy: 1. High skilled immigrants outnumber low skilled immigrants. 2. Immigrants have lower wages than their natural born counterparts.
Latina chosen to be national political director for Team Obama 2012, HUFFPO, 6/9/11
Archuleta is the first Latina to occupy this position for a major presidential candidate. Obama can read population trends. What this means for Latinos in the United States is still anybody’s guess.
Immigration big issue for 2012 elections, The Atlantic, 6/9/11|
The Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll examines response to demographic changes by race.


One Response to “Southern Inhospitality: Alabama HB 56”

  1. Mandy June 20, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    “It seems that pitting poor white and black communities against immigrants for a few scraps has been a successful political strategy for Southern conservatives.”

    It’s been working for hundreds of years; why stop now? Chad Montrie and bell hooks have a lot to say about it if you want to read more.

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