African-American and Latino community leaders in Alabama came together Saturday in an effort to unite the two communities against the state’s new strict immigration law that they say is tantamount to terrorizing immigrants.
In a rally titled, Alabama United: One Family, One Alabama, community members held hands and sung We Shall Overcome to build consensus for what they say are basic rights that new immigration law, HB 56, violates.
Speaking at the rally, Birmingham City Councilman Johnathan Austin called the new legislation unjust. "It's time for us, as brothers and sisters, to stand up for righteousness, stand up for justice and stand up for equality," he said.
HB 56 has been deemed the country’s strictest immigration law to date. Among other provisions, the law requires state and local law enforcement officials to verify a person’s immigration status during routine traffic stops or arrests, if they feel “a reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is in the country illegally. It also criminalizes the “willful failure” of a person in the country illegally to carry federal immigration papers.
Anthony Johnson of the Birmingham Metro NAACP likened the immigrant struggle to what Blacks once faced under segregation.
"We must work together, we must pray together, we must fight together, until HB56 is repealed," Johnson told The Birmingham News.
The law was challenged by the Obama Administration but was largely upheld by a federal judge in late September.