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Alabama’s Indefensible New Immigration Law

By Ryan Rodrick Beiler for Shutterstock.

Father and child at an immigration march in Washington, D.C. By Ryan Rodrick Beiler for Shutterstock.

Last week, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley made a morally indefensible decision. He signed HB 658, which intensifies the climate of fear that already hangs over Alabama like low dark clouds before a hurricane.

Bentley once claimed that HB 658 would simplify HB 56 — the current anti-immigrant legislation that catapulted Alabama to the national stage. If this is simplification, then I’d like to see Bentley’s version of messed up. HB 658’s additional punitive measures now have created a more problematic situation that exacerbates the current oppression of some of the most vulnerable souls in Alabama.  

The new law is reckless. HB 658 calls for the creation of an online public database to expose the names of all undocumented immigrants who have appeared in court. In addition, the law targets innocent children by requiring schools to check the immigration status of students.

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Photo: Brandon Hook / Sojourners

Jim Rice, editor of Sojourners magazine, has been a member of Sojourners editorial staff since 1989. He has also served as director of Sojourners Outreach Ministry and as coordinator of Sojourners Peace Ministry. He currently serves as a Research Fellow for the New Media Project at Christian Theological Seminary.

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Soong-Chan Rah is the Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. This article is adapted from his forthcoming book, Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times. Copyright (c) 2015 by Soong-Chan Rah. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.com

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