Alabama

Faith Leaders Target Alabama's Immigration Bill With Ad

Yesterday, a diverse group of faith leaders in Alabama released a television ad targeting Alabama's HB 56 -- the worst anti-immigrant law in the country.

The 30-second ad features Rev. Steve Jones, senior pastor at Southside Baptist Church in Birmingham.

''We believe in reaching out and ministering to our community. Yet under Alabama's immigration law, we could be prosecuted for following God's call to be good Samaritans,” Jones says in the ad.

Watch:

G92, Immigration Reform, and a Letter from a Birmingham Jail

1962. Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty Images.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., surrounded by supporters at a rally in Birmingham, 1962. Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty Images.

February was Black History Month. I ended it by pressing for immigration reform in the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.

When I landed in Birmingham, Alabama two weeks ago, it struck me that I was on my way to Samford University — the flagship University of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). It struck me that the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest evangelical denomination in the country and among the most conservative. It struck me that Alabama used to boast that it had the harshest Jim Crow laws and law enforcement during the Civil Rights era. Now it boasts the harshest anti-immigrant law in the nation.

Passed into law on June 9, 2011, HB56 criminalizes Alabamans’ daily associations with immigrants who cannot prove their legal status. Giving an undocumented immigrant a ride can result in criminal arrest. The legislation also prohibits all businesses (including schools, the water company, and the telephone company among others) from conducting business transactions on any level with anyone who cannot prove their legal status. Tens of thousands of Latino families fled Alabama within weeks of the law’s passage. Businesses closed, schools lost huge percentages of their students, and vegetables were left to rot in the fields.

I was in Birmingham to speak at the G92 South Conference, a one-day conference for students and pastors hosted on Samford’s sprawling campus. G92 is a reference to the 92 times the Hebrew word Ger is used in the Bible. Ger means stranger or sojourner. The conference began last autumn at Cedarville University in Ohio. It is now being replicated on Christian college campuses across the country. Samford University was the second campus to agree to host the conference.

Afternoon News Bytes: Feb. 29, 2012

GDP Revised Up To 3 Percent In Fourth-Quarter; Why Foreign Assistance Is Still Important; Syrian Army Assaults Rebel Districts; Public Views Of The Divide Between Religion And Politics; What Did Congress Do To Combat Poverty In 2011? Virtually Nothing (OPINION); Environmental Justice A Form Of Social Justice (OPINION); Occupy LSX May Be Gone, But The Movement Won't Be Forgotten; World’s Extreme Poverty Cut In Half Since 1990; Poverty Resolutions, Microloan Nonprofit, Shows How Far $1 Can Go To Provide Jobs For Poor; Alabama Lawmakers Calls For Immigration Law Repeal.

Ten Commandments Judge Wants His Old Job Back

Justice Roy Moore holds a Bible while testifying in a hearing. Via Getty Images.
Justice Roy Moore holds a Bible while testifying in a hearing, 2004. Via Getty Images.

MOBILE, Ala. — You might think a candidate's ouster from the post he is seeking to regain would play a central role in a statewide election.
   
Yet Republican Roy Moore's forced exit, almost a decade ago, as Alabama's chief justice over a Ten Commandments monument seems only a murmur on the campaign trail.
   
Voters don't often ask about it, and the other two candidates in the March GOP primary hardly ever talk about it.
   
Moore plunged Alabama into a showdown in 2003 when he erected a 5,280-pound granite monument to the Ten Commandments in the Alabama judicial building in Montgomery. A federal judge declared the monument to be a violation of the separation of church and state and ordered Moore to remove it.
   
When Moore refused, a special panel of retired state judges voted unanimously to remove him from office for violating a higher-court order.

Welcoming the Stranger: Immigration and G92

Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/Washington Post via Getty Images.
Immigrant families are fleeing Alabama in the wake of the new law. Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/Washington Post via Getty Images.

Whenever possible, I plan my Saturday errands such that I’ll be able catch part of “This American Life” on public radio as I drive and I’ve often found myself sitting in the grocery store parking lot to hear the end of a story. 

One recent Saturday, the show’s theme — which ties together each of its non-fiction stories — was the biblical truism that “you reap what you sow” (Galatians 6:7), and most of the program was dedicated to examining the consequences — intended and otherwise — of Alabama’s controversial, toughest-in-the-nation immigration law, HB 56, which passed last June. 

Whether what is happening in Alabama as a result of this law — and, as the program reveals, a great deal is happening, even if most of us outside of the state aren’t paying attention — was the intention of the bill’s authors and supporters is not entirely clear. What is clear, from a Christian perspective, is that the effects are devastating. 

What most saddened me in the program was the statement of a young undocumented woman named Gabriella that, since the passage of HB 56, she finds herself unwelcome everywhere. “Even in the church,” she says, “you find people that… don't want to talk at you. And they don't want to give the peace to you.”

Afternoon News Bytes: Feb. 2, 2012

Obama: Jesus Would Tax The Rich; Pockets Of Prosperity Across USA Escaped Recession; Obama Won't Touch Climate With A Ten-Foot Pole; U.S. Press Freedom Fell 27 Places Last Year To 47th In The World; Gingrich Slams Romney: The Founding Fathers Believed In Equal Opportunity For The Poor; Why Both Parties Are Flying the Anti-Wall Street Banner; Occupy Your Voice; Can Science End War?; Alabama's Immigration Law To Cost State Millions In Lost Taxes, Study Says.

MUST LISTEN: This American Life’s “Alien Experiment”

Old radio, adobe wall. Image via Wylio http://bit.ly/zFgPqk
Old radio, adobe wall. Image via Wylio http://bit.ly/zFgPqk

During this 35-minute audio story, Hitt walks through many aspects of the immigration bill and introduces real stories of people interacting with it — from Scott Beason, a Republican senator who was the primary sponsor for the bill last season, to Latino families pulling their kids out of school, quitting their jobs, and remaining safe in their isolated neighborhoods.

Hitt demonstrates how this is not only a huge issue for the state, but also for the church. A woman shares that people at her congregation are suspect when passing the peace, some won’t even shake hands. But again, this is what HB56 is about: making life uncomfortable to the point that the undocumented people will leave because it’s easier to flee than to stay.

Immigration Reformer Scott Douglas Faces the Colbert Nation

On Monday's Colbert Report, Sojourners friend and Civil Rights activist Scott Douglas, discussed the overturn of Alabama's immigration law with host (and possible presidentail candidate) Stephen Colbert, and calls for a single, fair and national immigration law for the entire country.

Douglas is executive director of the Greater Birmingham Ministries in Alabama.

Watch his conversation with Colbert inside the blog...

 

Immigration: Alabama is Organizing... Again!

My adoptive dad’s family goes back five generations in Mississippi. They endured the most ruthless lashes of American slavery and the most brutal state-sponsored terrorism during the Jim Crow legal regime. In fact, my dad personally had a brush with the Klan as a child. The Ku Klux Klan broke up an evening meeting at his grandparents’ church in the early 1950s. He doesn’t remember much about the night, except the terror. In his adult years, he looks back and realizes they were probably organizing.

Organizing… in Mississippi… before Rosa Parks said “No” in Montgomery, Ala. My grandparents were organizing.

Yet even my family history—along with images of sneering white southerners during the desegregation of Little Rock High School, complicit whites riding near-empty buses during the Montgomery bus boycott, and white officers hosing down black children in Birmingham, Alabama—did not prepare me for what I encountered when I traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, last month.

I boarded a plane in Washington, D.C., to fly to Montgomery early on December 17. There I would conduct Sojourners Organizing training for Immigration Reform in partnership with the Greater Birmingham Ministries (GBM), a faith-based organization dedicated to building more just communities and systems in Alabama.

Pages

Subscribe