BY JESSICA JENKINS
Today, a statewide coalition in Alabaman is launching a campaign to repeal HB 56, the country’s harshest immigration law yet. The Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice kicks off the “One Family, One Alabama” Campaign at 7:00 pm at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Nearly a dozen members of Congress are expected to attend, as well as Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers movement and other civil rights leaders from around the country and State Senator Billy Beasley, sponsor of a bill to repeal HB56. The campaign will build upon months of protests and prayer vigils that have taken place throughout the state.
Since HB 56 was implemented this fall, people of faith have been instrumental in bearing witness to the suffering caused by the law, and leading the charge to overturn it. Long-time residents of Latino origin have fled the state. Those who have remained have faced profiling and discrimination, and have been denied fundamental services like access to electricity and water, thanks to the provision of the law that outlaws formation of a contract with an undocumented immigrant. Said Rev. Paul Zoghby, pastor at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, ‘This is the saddest thing I have experienced in my 18 years as a priest.”
Last week a national group of evangelical leaders spoke out against the crisis in Alabama after a delegation to the state, and called upon people of faith to overturn the law. Rev. Danny DeLeon, Chairman of the National Hispanic Pentacostal Congress, said, “The church in Alabama must rise up and be a united force to say, ‘let’s fix what’s broken.’ In the meantime, let’s take care of human beings that are hurting and are being devastated by this law. What truly concerns me as a pastor is the devastation of so many families. If anyone should come out to protect these families, it should be the churches.”
Scott Douglas, Executive Director of Greater Birmingham Ministries discusses the law in this video, calling this the worst time for Alabama since Jim Crow and urging young people to stand up to oppose the law – “Now is your time.” It sounds like Alabamans of all ages are heeding the call.