Alabama Clergy Sue to Stop Anti-Immigrant Law

By Andrew Simpson 08-04-2011

When the Alabama legislature passed their infamous, anti-immigrant law (HB 56), the religious community in the state immediately cried foul. Jim Wallis and other national leaders condemned the law as unjust and immoral.

HB 56, which will go into effect September 1, attacks virtually every aspect of immigrants' lives. Among many punitive measures, it authorizes police to detain anyone they suspect is undocumented, mandates criminal penalties for those who transport undocumented migrants, and demands that public schools determine the immigration status of all students.

Now Alabama Christian leaders have voiced their dissent even more loudly by filing a lawsuit to stop the state from enacting the anti-immigrant law. Leaders of the Episcopalian, Methodist, and Roman Catholic churches in Alabama are suing the state on the grounds that HB 56 will, as the lawsuit states, "make it a crime to follow God's command to be Good Samaritans."

In a statement on the Archdiocese of Mobile's website, Archbishop Thomas Rodi explained the decision to take legal action, saying:

The law prohibits almost every activity of our St. Vincent de Paul chapters or Catholic Social Services. If it involves an undocumented immigrant, it is illegal to give the disabled person a ride to the doctor; give food or clothing or financial assistance in an emergency; allow them to shop at our thrift stores or to learn English; it is illegal to counsel a mother who has a problem pregnancy, or to help her with baby food or diapers, thus making it far more likely that she will choose abortion

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