Protest of Immigration Law Closes Alabama Businesses

At least six poultry processing plants were among the Alabama businesses closed October 12, as immigrant workers and their allies called in sick to protest the state’s strict immigration law, reported The Associated Press.

Alabama’s immigration law, similar to those in Arizona and Georgia, empowers law enforcement officers to request proof of citizenship during routine traffic stops and to detain suspected illegal immigrants. It also imposes penalties against business owners who hire undocumented workers, and requires schools to determine the immigration status of students at the time of enrollment.

The law was challenged in federal court by the U.S. Department of Justice and civil rights groups. Judge Sharon Blackburn ruled September 28 that most of its provisions are constitutional and can be enforced.

After Blackburn’s ruling, Alabama schools reported a significant number of Hispanic students were absent or withdrew. Even more students were absent on the sick-out day of protest, which also saw immigrant-owned or immigrant-dependent businesses closed, according to the AP.

Mireya Bonilla, a Mexican immigrant who owns a grocery store in Albertville, told the source the protest was meant to show state officials the role immigrants play in Alabama’s economy.

To increase the protest’s impact, some are calling for a week-long boycott of all Alabama stores except those operated by immigrants, the Birmingham News reported.