Naturally, I discovered this story in the foreign press, in this case The Guardian under the headline: The grim reality of life under Alabama’s brutal immigration law:
The day after the new law was upheld, [Isobel] Gomez saw three police cars driving around her housing complex, which is almost entirely Hispanic in occupancy. Word went around that the police asked men standing on the street to go inside their homes or face arrest. […]
“If they see me they will think I’m suspicious and then they will detain me indefinitely,” Gomez says.
Why would the police think she was suspicious? “They will see the colour of my skin.”
Yes, once more “colored people” are considered a problem in Alabama. So much of a problem that they hand out leaflets to a little girls at her school, a born in the USA American, informing her and her parent of the consequences of the new law, which makes it a crime for “suspicious persons” to fail to carry on their person at all times documentation that proves they are permanent residents or have otherwise have been granted the legal right to stay in America. And why was this little girl, an American citizen and the daughter of Cineo Gonzalez, a permanent resident of twenty years, one of only two children in her class given the pamphlet, singled out for this degrading treatment?
“Because we gave the printout to children we thought were not from here,” came the reply [from the deputy head teacher].
Because, my friends, anyone who has brown skin and “looks hispanic” is automatically deemed to be “not from here” by the Alabama authorities, whether teachers or police officers. Anyone with brown skin can legally be stopped by Alabama’s law enforcement officers as a “suspicious person” under this crazy, bigoted, insane, racist law. The law was challenged in Federal Court, but the Federal District Judge for Alabama recently upheld most of its key provisions:
A federal judge on Wednesday upheld most of the sections of Alabama’s far-reaching immigration law that had been challenged by the Obama administration, including portions that had been blocked in other states. […]
“Today Judge Blackburn upheld the majority of our law,” Gov. Robert Bentley said in a brief statement he delivered outside the State Capitol in Montgomery. “With those parts that were upheld, we have the strongest immigration law in the country.” […]
The judge upheld a section that requires state and local law enforcement officials to try to verify a person’s immigration status during routine traffic stops or arrests, if “a reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is in the country illegally. And she ruled that a section that criminalized the “willful failure” of a person in the country illegally to carry federal immigration papers did not pre-empt federal law.
Notice how proud Governor Bentley’s statement reads? He’s thrilled that Alabama has taken the lead in exposing to the world that racial injustice in America is alive and well and thriving in one of the former slave states of the Confederacy. Brings a whole new meaning to the word “heritage” doesn;t it, especially when that heritage can now be expressed openly by the state of Alabama, because once more “colored” people can be brutalized and intimidated by the state under “color of law.”
Guess where this atrocity of a law is heading? That’s right, the US Supreme Court, because Judge Blackburn’s decision conflicts with decisions in other states which had passed similar laws. Want to take bets on how the Roberts’ Court will rule on Alabama’s draconian law? How will the descendants of immigrants, Scalia and Alito, and the descendant of former slaves, Justice Thomas, rule, do you think, on criminalizing the failure to carry your papers on you at all times if you are colored — I mean if you are a person the police have a “reasonable suspicion” may be in the county illegally? I suspect we already know the answer to that question.
Meanwhile many Hispanic families in Alabama live under the fear that at any time they may be rounded up and their children taken from them–literally:
In a consulting room, a case manager is drawing up a power of attorney letter for a couple who fear they could be rounded up and deported at any time. The legal document – one of hundreds taken out by parents in the state – sets out what should happen to their eight-year-old daughter should they both suddenly disappear.
In this case, it gives one of the couple’s friends, a US citizen, the power to make decisions for the girl on anything from medical procedures to schooling. “This is very cruel, very extreme,” the mother says, asking to remain anonymous. “We have never done harm to anyone. We’ve only worked hard. Now they’re trying to split us from our child.”
Why does she think they – the Alabama authorities – are doing this? “We ask ourselves that too. Why are they doing this? They say it’s because we are taking jobs from local people, but I don’t think it can be about that. It’s about racism.”
Yes, my anonymous sister (for I consider all people suffering from injustice my brothers and sisters) it is about racism. Racism used by politicians to demean and degrade you. These politicians use the racism of poor whites in Alabama to blind them to the fact that these very same politicians, Republicans for the most part, are actively working against the economic and social interests of their white constituents. Killing two birds with one stone.
The stone that Republicans always claim doesn’t exist anymore in our so-called color-blind society: racism. In Alabama. In the Republican Party. What a shock.
How little has changed. I wonder when lynching will be brought back as as entertainment for the masses. By the way, that’s not a joke. I really do wonder that.