DEARBORN, Mich. – Alabama’s tough new anti-immigrant law, HB56, violates the most basic human rights of immigrants protected under the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunities Education acts, the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) said today.
NNAAC Director Nadia Tonova said her organization supports a broad coalition of leaders pushing for repeal of the law, which encourages racial profiling by allowing police to question anyone they stop about his or her immigration status if they suspect the person is undocumented.
Human and civil rights groups say the measure is destroying community life and families out of fear that doing any business with a state agency – from getting a driver’s license to having seeking utilities service turned on – can lead to an arrest. School attendance has dropped significantly since the law took effect, because families fear schools asking about immigration status could result in family members facing deportation.
The new coalition, the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, is made up of advocacy organizations, business leaders, mayors, faith leaders, and community leaders. The group plans to launch the “One Family, One Alabama” campaign on Friday, Nov. 21.
On that date, members of Congress will be in Alabama to hold hearings to hear from impacted communities.
“We commend the congressional delegation that will hear testimony in Birmingham and all those who are taking a stand against the law and upholding civil and human rights,” Tonova said. “In passing HB56, Alabama’s legislators have sought to drive a wedge between immigrants and other Alabamans and deepen racial isolation while scapegoating communities of color. Existing federal civil rights laws that made equality the law of land must be respected in 2011 in Alabama.”
The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Alabama law. In a brief filed Wednesday, the Justice Department said the measure is unconstitutional and aims to threaten "the most basic human needs."
The federal End Racial Profiling Act of 2011 would outlaw racial profiling across the country and allow victims of racial profiling to take action against the law enforcement agencies that targeted them.
The law is also fiscally irresponsible, critics point out. Alabama immigrants paid $130 million in legal taxes in 2010, according to the Immigration Policy Center. Furthermore, the measure’s goal to deport undocumented immigrants would cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
ACCESS is a human services organization committed to the development of the Arab American community in all aspects of economic and cultural life. ACCESS helps low-income families, as well as newly arrived immigrants, adapt to life in America. Its goal is to foster a greater understanding of Arab Culture in the U.S. and in the Arab world. ACCESS provides a wide range of social, mental health, educational, artistic, employment, legal, and medical services, and is dedicated to empowering people to lead more informed, productive, and fulfilling lives.