Alabama’s HB 56: Structural racism at its fullest; US government blocks it for one more month, 8/22- 8/29

31 Aug

Featured article: Alabama Immigration Law Can’t Be Enforced, U.S. Judge Rules, San Francisco Chronicle, August 29, 2011

The big news today: The federal government has postponed Alabama’s harsh anti-immigrant law from going into effect for at least one more month (September 29th). Alabama’s law, labeled as one of the harshest and strictest, denies immigrants basic human rights, targets communities of color, and essentially promotes segregation and racism. The ACLU provides a detailed analysis of how it interferes in every aspect of life. For example:

  • Encourages racial profiling: requires state and local police to detain and investigate people based on “suspicion”
  • Denies access to education: Schools will be required to obtain student and parents’ documentation to prove citizenship. This will discourage undocumented parents from enrolling their children in schools.
  • Promotes racial profiling through schools: The bill encourages schools to report to the Federal government if there are students and parents who are “unlawfully present.”
  • Bars access to housing and jobs: Denies undocumented immigrants the option to rent or enter in any type of “business transaction” (i.e jobs).
  • Criminalizes assistance to undocumented immigrants: Makes it a crime to drive or transport an undocumented person, even to go to a medical appointment or the grocery store. Makes it a crime to provide services, like medical care, to undocumented immigrants (see my earlier post on this).

The list goes on, but you get the picture.

From a public health perspective, this bill is atrocious and it replicates institutional racism. Alabama’s HB 56 supports structures in place that block access to decent living conditions for undocumented immigrants. It infiltrates institutions and services necessary for people and society to be healthy, including education, housing, transportation, employment, and medical services. The bill aims to build a huge cage to imprison communities of color, where each bar represents a different institution. One bar is housing, another bar is transportation, another is education, etc. HB 56 threatens to raise countless bars that will imprison children, parents, immigrants, and people of color. Don’t be fooled. This is not only targeting undocumented immigrants. It targets anyone “suspicious” and, in our society, our color of skin is enough to raise “suspicion.” It will generate severe consequences not only now, but in our future, because immigrants are here to stay, with or without papers. And denying our immigrants basic human rights like education, mobility and housing will only generate more animosity and hostility. This is not the way to address immigration, regardless of your political views. It is a recipe for disaster through structural racism.

I demand more than a “temporary” block. I and millions around our nation and our world urge the federal government to block HB 56 permanently. Don’t endorse structural racism.

Other Relevant News

California Senate panel OKs part of Dream Act 8/26/2011, Los Angles Times
The second part of the California Dream Act moves forward. This law would allow undocumented students to receive financial aid from the state’s higher education coffers.

The Nation’s Cruelest Immigration Law, 8/29/11, New York Times
NY Times  editorial board writes this strong piece that denounces the Alabama’s AB 56 in the harshest terms.

Obama’s immigration policy points in the right direction, 8/29/11, Boston Globe
Finally, the Obama administration gives the one-sided deportation policy some respite by allowing immigration judges to consider extenuating circumstance.

Bay Area forum condemns Secure Communities immigration program, 8/28/11, Los Angeles Times
Community members in Oakland unite to condemn the Secure Communities dragnet.


2 Responses to “Alabama’s HB 56: Structural racism at its fullest; US government blocks it for one more month, 8/22- 8/29”

  1. E. Brader December 5, 2011 at 5:18 am #

    If people didn’t break the law and enter the country illegally none of this would matter. Calling an illegal alien an undocumented immigrant is like calling your neighborhood drug dealer an unlicensed pharmacist. I certainly wouldn’ want the police stopping and or questioning someone they thought was dealing drugs based on “suspicion”. I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone in our school system to report anyone they suspected might be breaking the law without first asking themselves if the ACLU might consider them racist for doing so.


  1. The United State of America’s Cruelty at its Worst, 9/26-10/2 « The Curious Ostrich - October 3, 2011

    […] and civil rights groups will likely move forward quickly with appeals. As we have discussed here in The Curious Ostrich, the law will also undoubtedly have an incredibly detrimental effect on the well-being of immigrant […]

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