Monday, January 30, 2012

Alabama's Anti-Immigration Law: The Faithful Take Action

Yesterday at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church on Birmingham's Southside, the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ) gave a presentation called Immigration 101. We heard a host of reasons why Alabama’s Immigration Law is being opposed by many of our state’s citizens. Some myths about immigration were presented and clarified as well as facts about Alabama's extreme anti-immigration law. Two of the myths that were countered were that immigrants don't pay taxes and that they come here to take welfare. In actual fact, last year in Alabama, immigrants paid $132 million in taxes. Furthermore, immigrants are 86% more productive than native-born workers.

We heard about inspiring, and even heroic measures that are being planned by St. Andrew’s parishioners to attempt to bring some sense of justice in the wake of an unjust law. For those of us who grew up with memories of the Jim Crow laws and the KKK, Alabama’s new law is particularly disconcerting. Once again we are seeing how fear and the need for power and control have led to harmful legislation. Alabama has made national headlines for passing the strictest immigration law in the country.  The bill forces attorneys to choose between the law and their own code of ethics regarding attorney/ client privilege. It has already cost the state income by affecting farmers' ability to harvest crops and keeping investors away from Alabama. 

Thousands have already rallied against the law and clergy from many denominations are opposing it. Many faith communities are protesting the unjust law.  If you want a quick view of reasons why this is a bad law, the Center for American Progress has compiled 100 Reasons Why the Alabama Immigration Law is a Disaster, which you can read here.

One reason that it is important for faith communities to take action, and why I was so inspired to hear the discussion at St. Andrew’s Church, is that there seems to be little public interest in taking action. A recent Alabama survey showed public apathy on a wide range of issues. According to the survey done by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, jobs are the number one issue for the state legislature to consider this year, with 32% ranking it as the most important. The number two ranking in the survey was “no opinion” which came in at 22%. Education was at 13% and all other issues were in the single digits, with immigration ranking at 5%.

Today, I want to give a word of praise to the congregants at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and their rector, Father Ed Hunt, for showing interest and being willing to take action for the cause of justice.  There are things all of us can do right now, such as phone or write your state representative and ask them to repeal Alabama’s Immigration law. The Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ) has a team ready to share information with your church or community group. Check out their website here



  1. On February 14, the ACIJ is planning an Immigration Rally in Montgomery, Ala. at the Statehouse, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. The purpose is to ask legislators to repeal the Immigration Law (HB56). Their goal is to have 2,000 people at that rally.

  2. Great post Charles. I'm embarrassed by the immigration law.
    BTW I gave you an award. I hope some of my followers visit and
    follow your updates.

    1. Thanks, Rick! I see that there are some rules that come with the Smart Cookie Award -- I'll follow through later.

  3. Immense Post. Thanks for posting and sharing with all.


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