Protesters Fearful, Angry about Alabama Immigration Reform

Hundreds of protesters recently gathered outside Alabama’s capitol building in Montgomery to oppose the state’s strict immigration law, set to take effect on September 1.

Modeled on similar legislation passed in other states, including Arizona and Indiana, Alabama’s law goes even further, making it a criminal offense for illegal immigrants to rent a home or take a job. The law empowers police officers to request proof of citizenship from suspected illegals. It also stipulates penalties for U.S. citizens who provide illegal immigrants services or even favors, such as driving them to the doctor.

The U.S. Department of Justice has sued for an injunction against the law, which also faces a legal challenge from religious leaders who say it will prevent them from carrying out works of charity. The DOJ successfully sued for an injunction against Arizona’s law last year.

However, with rulings still pending in these lawsuits, protesters converged on Alabama’s capitol. They heard from two Democratic state senators who voted against the law and from several religious leaders, before lighting candles on the state house steps.

Edward Menefee, the protest organizer and co-founder of immigrant rights group VamosTogether, told the Montgomery Advertiser that Alabama’s immigrants simply want to be treated with respect and given opportunities to improve their lives.