FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Anti-Latino Laws Ignite The South

by LAMONT LILLY

In its original format, Alabama’s Beason-Hammon Act granted school resource officers the right to badger 5th graders on the basis of their immigration status. The state of Alabama, which passed the Beason-Hammon Act (or HB 56) in June of 2011, was the only state in the country requiring public school administrators to verify immigration data for new K-12 students. However, just two months ago in August of this year, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the student provision of HB 56, declaring it unconstitutional and a legal breach of Plyer vs. Doe, which mandates that states provide an education to all children, regardless of their immigration status. The 11th Circuit also struck down Georgia’s HB 87, a state proposal to criminalize the “transporting and harboring of illegal immigrants,” a statute with anti-Latino written all over it, a proposal with no parallel within the U.S. system of federal law.

These recent rulings were key in dispelling the notion that individual states can create their own immigration regulations, bypassing federal authority. When initially proposed, Alabama’s HB 56 along with Georgia’s HB 87, were sold as valuable pieces of legislation that would boost local economies – laws that would crack down on the presence of those entering the U.S. illegally. Conservatives billed such bigotry as a quick fix to unemployment and poorly performing schools. Instead, such rogue policies were a complete setback to Civil Rights and due process. In Alabama, children of all ages were deterred from attending school and pursuing their education. Many withdrew out of fear that their families could be deported if questioned about their immigration status. According to the U.S. Justice Department, over 13% of Latino children withdrew over the one year HB 56 operated before federal intervention. Instead of teaching Geometry, classroom instructors were fishing for birth certificates.

As for those local economies and decreasing unemployment rates, Alabama’s number one industry, Agriculture, was damn near decimated. We’re talking an agricultural sector accustomed to generating over $5.5 billion per year. Industries dependent upon migrant labor, like Alabama’s poultry operations, were devastated. Small farming operations were brought to a halt, as valuable workers were scared indoors. Others simply migrated for the purpose of mere safety. Such complications have also been used as justification for not paying temporary workers – hired and fired a month later, and with no pay to show for it. Many Latinos have refused to report crimes, whether legal or undocumented, any potential scrutiny by local law enforcement could initiate an ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) investigation.

Though portions of these bills were repealed, human rights supporters have continued to sound the alarm, for this branding of social control affects all poor and oppressed people – creating fear and frustration through alienation. Recently, the state of Alabama has challenged the ruling of the 11th Circuit’s three-judge panel and has asked for a new hearing. Though particular provisions were found to be outright unconstitutional, a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, state officials are arguing that federal courts overstepped state jurisdiction. Unfortunately, it seems that like Arizona, Alabama is positioning itself to take its immigration law all the way to the Supreme Court. For those of us who are U.S. History buffs, one can’t help but draw a direct correlation to Governor George Wallace’s stand against federal authorities in the 1960’s. His hard-line for segregation against the U.S. Supreme Court aroused racists nationwide.

In addition to federal judges, HB 56 has also caught the attention of President Obama. Even Barack has gone on record stating that “it’s a bad law.” But then again, the Obama Administration deported 396,000 immigrants last year.

While members of congress, federal judges and state legislators continue to debate, human rights defenders applaud what little progress has been made. We know damn well however, that those of us who despise such racist bigotry must continue to raise our voices. Deleting a few provisions isn’t going to be enough here, not while racial profiling still runs rampant. When traffic stops and roadblocks become immigrant obstacle courses, ethics become a serious matter of legal concern. If justice fails to prevail in this case, such structural hate could begin to blanket the entire southern Black Belt, setting new precedents for states like South Carolina, Georgia and Arkansas.

In response to this year long battle, Immigrants Rights activists have stayed the course. Protestors have deployed an array of tactics such as rallies and community forums, teach-ins and street blockades. DREAM activists and immigrant youth have conducted walk-outs. Workers and adult cooperatives have organized major strikes. Latino customers have chosen to boycott local businesses, while tens of thousands have convened in solidarity. Organizations as the United Steelworkers Union, ACLU and Immigrant Justice League have joined forces. The NAACP and Southern Poverty Law Center are also on board. Ironically, Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church has served as a rest haven and planning headquarters, the same church bombed by racists in 1963.

The bottom line is that HB 56 is a law that continues to ostracize and divide, conjuring fear, heightening the level of innocent victims and false arrests – perpetuating a complete violation of civil liberties. These anti-Hispanic acts aren’t merely a matter of disenfranchisement. Latino immigrants are being denied the right to even exist in some states, to barely breathe without some “officer of the law” riding their backs with an iron boot. True, the recent rulings by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals are great, but there should be no compromise with laws that encourage hate. For those of us who are abreast of such racist regulations, let us spread the word and continue to organize. For those of you who are learning of such injustice for the first time, join the movement’s noble cause. We the People say, “freedom for all,” and down with HB 56!

Lamont Lilly is a contributing editor with the Triangle Free Press, Human Rights Delegate with Witness for Peace and organizer with Workers World Socialist Party. He resides in Durham, N.C. Follow on him Twitter @LamontLilly

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail