Significance of Rhetoric & the Importance of Speaking Truth to Power:

Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, knows the power of words.  That’s why he quit his job recently and started Define American, a national campaign which calls upon others to join him “in saying that it’s time for a new national conversation on immigration. [...] Our request is simple: Let’s talk.”  The problem with the our nation’s previous conversations on immigration is that too many people in the conversation feel that it should start and end with “What part of illegal do you not understand?”  The following is an editorial in Alabama’s Decatur Daily regretting its use of “illegal immigrant” and the detrimental lack of conversation it produced:

“What part of ‘illegal’ do you not understand?”

When logic fails supporters of Alabama’s illegal immigration law, HB56, some version of this statement inevitably pops out. The statement is a refuge when the law’s detractors point out it chases away jobs by discouraging capital investment in the state. The law’s supporters grab for it when faced with inconsistencies between HB56 and their professed religious beliefs.

We often have used the term “illegal immigrants” in our pages because it succinctly identifies the primary targets of HB56. The “what-part-of” argument suggests we may have made a mistake. Undocumented immigrants are not illegal. Federal law and HB56 outlaw certain conduct by undocumented immigrants, but not their existence. If you don’t believe us, hear it from the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey in 2008, now Republican Gov. Chris Christie:

“Being in this country without documentation is not a crime. The whole phrase of ‘illegal immigrant’ connotes that the person, by just being here, is committing a crime. Don’t let people make you believe that that’s a crime. … It is not.”

A more basic problem with the “what-part-of-illegal” argument is that, especially in Alabama, we have a long history of state laws that violate fundamental concepts of human dignity. [...] Thank goodness that Rosa Parks was not cowed by the argument, “What part of ‘illegal’ do you not understand?”

Author Angela Carter also knew the power of words: “Language is power- [...] the instrument of domination and liberation.”  No child of God is illegal; it is dehumanizing and demeaning.  No undocumented immigrant identifies as “illegal;” and everybody has a right to be called what they wish, to define themselves, and not to be labeled by others.  Almost 400,000 undocumented immigrants were deported last year under the guise that they were “criminals,” who endangered America’s secure communities.  Traffic violations was the third most prevalent reason for these immigrants having been labeled “criminals.”  Hundreds of thousands of families have been devastated by this war of the words: It must stop!  Please take the pledge to drop the “I” word- at DropTheIword.org

Cesar Chavez said: “Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.”  Yet, chief proponents of HB56 have used racist and violent language.  Senator Beason referred to African Americans in Alabama’s Black Belt as “aborigines” and called upon the Alabamians in a town hall meeting to “empty the clip” on undocumented immigrants.  Beason, who sponsored HB56, denies having any racist, immoral, or violent intentions, but his language is especially regrettable in the recent context of Arizona’s rhetoric and political violence.  Many in Alabama’s immigrant community have already express fear of violence and have reported incidents of physical and verbal harassment.

So VamosTogether invites you to join others around the nation in a more insightful conversation about a complex issue, immigration.  Email us (vamostogether@gmail.com) a quote (please include your name, town, and occupation if possible) for this page and see your quote added, or if you are an undocumented American submit your testimonial (written or on youtube) for The Voices project.  What does America, community, dream, and justice mean for you?

Alabama, we must lift out voices in support of our immigrant brothers and sisters.  We must speak against this inhumane treatment of the hidden and the hated in our communities.  Now is the not the time to be silent as we can so clearly see evil triumphing.  Jose Antonio Vargas is undocumented and recently posted this statement:  “In the past few months — in varying degrees, with multiple effects — I really discovered the meaning of this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr: ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’”

Lift Every Voice- Speak Out Against HB56:

Anthony Johnson of Birmingham Metro NAACP:

Black families were once terrorized by segregation laws.  Now, immigrants, both illegal and legal, are being terrorized by racist, bigoted and politically motivated legislators in Montgomery, he said.  “We must work together, we must pray together, we must fight together, until HB56 is repealed,” Johnson said.

Attorney General Eric Holder speaking at Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth’s memorial at Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church:

Holder called the civil rights icon a warrior for justice and advocate for peace who has left behind a legacy for the country to follow.  Referring to HB56, which Holder is fighting in court, he vowed that he “was not going to let that happen.”  Too many in Alabama “are willing to turn their backs on our immigrant past.”

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley:

“I don’t want to be perceived as the face of illegal immigration bills in the country, and I could be that [...] I could take over [Arizona Governor] Jan Brewer’s place because every day we get someone from a national news program who wants us to be on live with them talking about the immigration issue. We’ve intentionally not done that because I don’t want to add fuel to the fire across the country where people continue to look at Alabama in a negative light,” he said.

He said many people who have never visited the state still think it is in the civil rights era. “It’s going to take us a long time to outlive those stereotypes that are out there among people that Alabama is living in the ’50s and ’60s,” Bentley said.

Laura Vazquez, a legislative analyst for La Raza:

“There needs to be a coordinated federal response to address the humanitarian crisis we’re seeing in Alabama. We’re concerned that DHS hasn’t changed its operations and that they are picking up people that are being detained under the very law [HB56] that DOJ is challenging.”

The ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center:

“Have called for a suspension of the Secure Communities program [a program that led to almost 400,000 deportations in the past year] in Alabama until the constitutionality of the new state immigration law is determined by the courts.”

Joanne Lin, a legislative council for the American Civil Liberties Union:

“You have two agencies that are pursuing courses that are inconsistent with each other,” [...] “In Alabama, DHS is continuing to operate its immigration program, which means you have people who are definitely being processed and referred for deportation. DHS is actively pursuing a program that, in my view, undermines DOJ’s litigation [against HB56.] There are new crimes in Alabama now; it is now a felony if you’re an undocumented person to be engaging in any sort of action with a government agency. That includes a public utility company, the state park system, etc. If they get booked into a Secure Communities jail, their fingerprints are automatically going to be forwarded to DHS. That person is going to be going to DHS as a felony arrestee. That’s going to be a high-priority person for them.”

Matt Chandler, a spokesman for DHS:

“We will closely follow this monitoring to ensure that local law enforcement in Alabama, and elsewhere, are not leveraging Secure Communities in a way that threatens individuals’ civil rights or civil liberties.”

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) who is the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus:

Gutierrez, pointed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s announcement in August that the department is shifting its priorities of deportations to focus on [undocumented] immigrants with other criminal histories.  “Nowhere is it more important for federal authorities to exercise prosecutorial discretion than in Alabama where a state has taken it upon itself to round people up or drive them out because of their appearance, accent, or lack of identification. [...] If Secretary Napolitano is serious about implementing a policy that targets real criminals, she must push back on a state that has decided to target everyone instead.”

U.W. Clemon, Alabama’s first African American federal judge, succeeded by Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn as Chief Judge of the Northern Alabama U.S. District Court:

I’m sure that she [Judge Blackburn] ruled in accordance with what [she] views to be the law. Unfortunately, in some very serious ways, she was mistaken.”

As a result of H.B. 56, in Alabama “the Hispanic man is the new Negro.”

Rev. Ellin Jimmerson of Weatherly Heights Baptist Church in Huntsville, who lost her daughter to an undocumented drunk driver:

“And I recall John Newton, steering his deadly ship filled with desperate, grieving human beings bound for slavery.  Newton encountered himself on that alien sea, encountered his own recklessness, turned around his ship with its cargo of broken families, broken hearts and broken dreams unsold, and wrote those endlessly beautiful words: ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.’

Gov. Bentley and members of the Alabama Legislature: HB 56 is a deadly ship you are steering, a ship filled with nothing but more broken families, more broken hearts and more broken dreams. I am asking you to encounter yourselves and turn this deadly, grief-bearing ship around.”

Rep. Joseph Mitchell of Mobile who joined all the members of the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus in voting against HB56:

In comparing HB56 to the pass laws during the Apartheid period in South Africa, Mitchell said: “This law is out of step with the way the World is moving. We are supposed to be bring people together not pushing them apart.”

Rev. Graetz, who worked with Rev. King and others to organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott:

“To single out Hispanic people for unequal treatment, violates the teachings of the Bible and is similar to the treatment of Black people during the Civil Rights Movement.”

Graetz reminded that Dr. Martin Luther King said, “ injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and preached creating “the beloved community” and that the HB56 law violates those principles.

Scott Douglas III, Executive Director of the Greater Birmingham Ministries:

This law is hateful. We saw that immediately. Then we hear the words of the legislators who passed it: ‘Yes, we want to scare them out of Alabama.’ When we challenge them [by saying] ‘you’re causing fear in the hearts of families,’ they said ‘that’s right.’ They were celebrating the harm that it did.”

With near-secessionary zeal, our state leaders are governing under the influence of rabid racism, extreme xenophobia, and much ignorance. The main thing is they’re causing much pain in Alabama.”

If you missed the 60s, guess what, now is your time. Now you can make the same kind of contribution that young people made in the 60s. And that is to be out front in saying ‘no’ to this system that will allow people to be treated worse than animals and denying basic human rights. And all in the name of instilling fear in people.”

Brian Cash, owner of K&B Farms, a third generation farm in the Chandler Mountain, Alabama:

The day after the Judge [Blackburn] upheld the law I sat right here and paid 64 people. At the end of the day I had 11. Some of these workers have been working in my family for 25 to 30 years. The ones that have been here are like family to me. They were really the first ones to up and leave. They just feared the harassment. The fields still have to be cleaned up. We laid plastic mulch and have drip irrigation and stakes and string and all that has to be cleaned up. We don’t have anybody left to do that.”

We’ve been letting high school guys come up here and pull plastic [mulch]. But can you depend on that [labor] next year to grow 100 acres? No. I wouldn’t do it. There’s no way I would do it. We invest way too much in it to not know.”

Senator Beason sat up here personally and told us that he thought that Alabamians would take these jobs and it’s just not happening. So that pretty much just ruins Alabama agriculture…If I cannot get my normal workforce back then I won’t even attempt to farm.”

Samuel Addy, Ph.D., Director and Research Economist at the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration at The University of Alabama:

Conservatively assuming that an illegal worker makes $5,000 a year (about $20 a day for 250 days of work or some 2 other combination), the absence of say 10,000 illegal workers would mean a $40 million contraction in the Alabama economy.”

Instead of boosting state economic growth, the law is certain to be a drag on economic development even without considering costs associated with enforcement of the law.

The August 2011 Alabama unemployment rate is 9.9 percent. Thus an unemployment rate decline will occur if more than 99 of every 1,000 vacated jobs are filled by unemployed legal residents and citizens…Anecdotal evidence to date seems to point to less than 99 of every 1,000 vacated jobs being filled by unemployed legal residents and citizens.”

Victor Palafox, founder of Alabama Dreamers for the Future, 19 year old student organizer and undocumented immigrant:

When I heard it [the emergency stay], I equated it to putting a bandaid on a bleeding amputee.”

One school took it upon themselves to ask every single Hispanic student for their papers.”

Paul Kleyman, director of the Ethnic Newsbeat at New America Media:

Today, Jim Crow has become Juan Crow.”

Nikolaos Zahariadis, resident of Birmingham, Alabama:

Even former Gov. George Wallace belatedly admitted the evil of his racist defense of Alabama’s peculiarities. Forty years later, our leaders have yet to learn this lesson.”

Roman Lovera, undocumented student afraid to go to high school:

I was so close. One little piece of paper [H.B. 56] kept me from graduating.”

Katryna Ellis, principal of Fonde Elementary in Mobile, Alabama:

The schools portion can be overturned, but the kids, of course, have got to be with the parents, and if the parents are not at a comfort level or not [with] the proper documentation, it’s [the court ruling is] null and void for us, and so it doesn’t help us, and it doesn’t help us bring these families back to our school.”

Rep. George Miller, D-CA

Instead of using the education system as a back-door attempt to scare children out of communities, Alabama should be focused on providing all students with a quality education. Immigration politics are a distraction from what should be happening in the classroom: teachers teaching and students learning.”

Rosa Toussaint-Ortiz, co-chairwoman of the Hispanic/Latino Advisory Committee in Huntsville, Alabama:

People are just taking off without knowing where they are going. They even own houses and are abandoning them. They are leaving their stuff behind.”

Maria, housecleaner and mother of two from Central Mexico living in Alabama:

This law has shattered all our dreams. We do the jobs no one else wants to do. We pay taxes. We do not harm anyone. Now the government says they don’t want us here, but we have nowhere to go. All the doors are closing on us. We can’t even drive a car without being afraid. I cannot believe this is God’s will.”

Erica Suarez, undocumented immigrant resident of Alabama:

I’m very scared. The police can stop me and ask for my status, and if I don’t have a driving licence take me to jail for 30 days. What happens to my son in that time? This is so sad. We came here for a better life, and were happy here.”

Cinthia Gonzalez, mother and owner of family-owned store in Alabama:

All our customers, they’re leaving now and we’re scared for our economy, and it’s not only us, it’s a lot of people here.”

Jay Reed of Associated Builders & Contractors, co-chair of Alabama Employers for Immigration Reform:

Immigration reform is certainly needed. But a far-reaching piece of legislation that drives workers out of the state through racial profiling is not the way to do it.”

“In Alabama we must continue to roof projects, plant landscaping and harvest crops. Today the question is, ‘Who is left to do that?‘”

The two issues are the labor shortage and the burdensome red tape. There was a big misconception that there were long lines formed by Alabamians who wanted these labor-intensive jobs.”

Greg Parrish, owner of Creekside Rentals, a mobile home park in Russellville, Alabama:

Fifteen years ago, Russellville was a dead town… everything started booming. [Hispanics] put a lot of money back into the community. If they leave, Russellville’s going to be hurting big time.”

Keith Smith, Alabama farmer:

They’re putting me out of business, this law. And if things don’t change, if they don’t come up with something better, people like me — we’re a has-been.”

Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-7th):

The recent immigration policy has cast a dark cloud over Alabama.”

Scott Beaulier, professor of economics at Troy University and executive director of the Sorrell College of Business’s Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy:

Anti-immigration laws like Alabama’s are jobs and economic growth killers. It’s a tried and failed approach that plays well politically, but is based on flawed economic logic. Immigration laws are a way to tarnish and scapegoat people who don’t look or sound like us.

Jeremy Thornton, professor of economics at Samford University Brock School of Business:

The state will be poorer because of this bill.”

John McMillan, agriculture commissioner of Alabama:

We have seen the enormous difficulties farmers, especially those in produce and poultry, have encountered as a result of the new immigration law. The economic hardship to farmers and agribusinesses will reverberate throughout Alabama’s economy, as one-fifth of all jobs in our state come from farming.

It [HB56] is unquestioningly going to drive up food prices.

Jamie Boatwright, tomato farmer from Chandler Mountain, Alabama:

Since this law went in to effect, I’ve had a total 11 people that were Americans come and ask for work. A total of one of those actually came back the next day… that person picked four boxes of tomatoes, walked out of the field, and said ‘I’m done.’… The majority of your Americans, you know, they may go pick something out of the garden for 15 or 30 minutes, and it takes them ‘til the next day to get over it…You know there’s a lot of people saying ‘well pay them more.’ Well when you go to the grocery store … my tomatoes are going to be 2.99 or 5.99 or 10.99 a pound.”

Kent Scott, blueberry grower from Henry County, Alabama:

They [inmates] don’t have the motivation to work…Immigrants are willing to work. They are trying to feed their families. They’re hustling.

Steve Dubrinsky, owner of a Jewish deli in Birmingham, Alabama:

They [the kitchen staff] are scared and I can’t blame them. It [H.B. 56] is affecting a lot of restaurants. It’s a mess…There aren’t Alabamians lining up to get these jobs.”

Bill Lawrence, principal of Foley Elementary in Foley, Alabama:

Most of these kids are American citizens. American citizens attending American schools, afraid…A child in fear can’t learn. And that’s what we dealt with Thursday and Friday… All you’re thinking about is ‘is my mom and dad gonna be home.’”

Wayne Flynt, historian and Auburn University professor emeritus:

“This is the most mean-spirited, hateful thing I’ve ever read…Unemployed people are simply not going to leave the house in June, July and August to go fill [the low-wage jobs].”

Norm Moore, chief administrative officer of Woener Development Inc.:

We believe that all of our employees are legal, but they have told us, ‘We’re not going to stay in a place we’re not welcome. We’re going somewhere else to work.’ They came here for the same reasons that most of our ancestors came here — for better opportunity.

Tommy Boatright, manager of a trailer park in Foley, Alabama:

They are my very best renters. They are hardworking and never cause trouble. I really hate to see them go.

Rev. Paul Zoghby, St. Margaret of Scotland Church in Foley, Alabama:

We’ve already lost 20 percent of the congregation in the past two weeks, and many more will be gone by next week. It is a human tragedy.”

Sen. Billy Beasley, (D-Clayton), who has filed a bill to repeal H.B. 56:

The people in the agriculture community are not happy with it because they can’t get workers. The folks in the courthouses are not happy with it. The folks in the school business are not happy with it.

Van Phillips, principal, Center Point High School, Alabama:

I’m not INS. It’s not my job to police who’s legal, who’s illegal.”

Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers

“Parents are afraid to drive their kids to school, [fearing] that something will happen and they won’t be able to care for their children. Nobody wins when a law pushes children into the shadow of society. Teachers should be safety nets, not snitches. Guardians, not guards.”

Sally Howell, executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards:

We’re concerned about the chilling effect on attendance and registration of students that we are required by law to serve.”

David Stout, spokesman for the Alabama Education Association:

The teachers already have tremendous responsibilities and now must take on the responsibility of being immigration officials.”

Victor Spezzini, Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama:

This is a step backward in time for Alabama. We are going back to a time of laws similar to Jim Crow laws, but now directed at immigrant communities.”

Janet Murguía, president, National Council of La Raza:

This law harkens back to similar laws in Alabama’s past. We have been down this road before, and this is not a part of Alabama’s history that bears repeating.”

Kim Haynes, local Alabama farmer:

Alabama just shut off their local food supply.”

Mac Higginbotham, commodity director at the Alabama Farmers Federation in Montgomery:

This decision affects every farmer and every person who hires one or more employees. The fact is, a lot of Americans aren’t willing to do temporary jobs that involve intense work in the hot sun.”

Brian Hardin, assistant director of the Alabama Farmers Federation’s governmental and agricultural programs:

We’ve got farmers who have already lost crops this summer and this fall. It’s hot work. It’s difficult work and it’s work that most people don’t want to do for a long time.”

Chad Smith, local Alabama farmer:

The tomatoes are rotting in the vine, and there is very little we can do…we will be lucky to be in business next year.

Jay Reed of Associated Builders & Contractors, co-chair of Alabama Employers for Immigration Reform:

“In Alabama we must continue to roof projects, plant landscaping and harvest crops. Today the question is, ‘Who is left to do that?‘”

The two issues are the labor shortage and the burdensome red tape. There was a big misconception that there were long lines formed by Alabamians who wanted these labor-intensive jobs.”

Jose Carlos Pineda, 13-year-old son of Guadalupe Pineda-Rios, owner of Foley La Michaoacana market in Alabama, speaking on behalf of his father:

From night to the morning, his dream went away. If the law keeps going, he might have to close. And if the business closes, he has to leave.”

Linda Harris, English as a Second Language teacher at Foley Elementary, Alabama:

As they were leaving today—I heard about the immigration law—and it broke my heart to see them walk out the door and think that I might not see them again. That broke my heart because they are children who I have a relationship with. They are real live human beings. They are not characters in a play.”

Randy Christian, chief deputy of Birmingham’s Jefferson County, Alabama, which is trying to avoid filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history:

I am more concerned on where we will put the ones we detain. We have a jail built for 900 inmates that is already overcrowded and averaging 1,200 inmates a day. It’s another unfunded mandate to a county struggling to keep its head above water.”

Doug Jones, former U.S. attorney for Alabama’s Northern District:

Said the provisions would open the door to “selective prosecutions, racial profiling, and denial of educational opportunities despite the law’s statements to the contrary.”

Senator Quinton Ross, along with Hank Sanders, another Democratic state senator:

Sen. Ross told the crowd he was “ashamed” of the law and that even though his party is “in the minority,” they “will continue to fight on behalf of all Alabamians.”

Mark Kennedy, chairman of the Alabama Democrats, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice:

Though we appreciate the serious and thoughtful deliberation with which Judge Blackburn made her decision today, we are disappointed that the Alabama legislature would see fit to pass a bill that could lead to racial profiling and injustice.”

Guillermo Villanueva, a sophomore business science major at the University of Alabama at Birmingham:

Legally you can harass someone for looking different. An illegal person doesn’t look any different from me.”

Jose Perez, a 15-year-old high school sophomore who said he has lived in Alabama since he was 2:

I know nothing of my home country of Mexico. It makes me feel hurt and offended, because my parents brought me here for a better life and I didn’t have a say in that. I just have a say to stay here and fighting for what I believe.”

Vianey Garcia, undocumented immigrant living in Alabama:

We have to move. We have to leave everything. We can’t take anything because I’m afraid they can stop us and say why are you moving?

Perla Perez, undocumented immigrant living in Alabama:

We cannot even go out and buy food.

Rev. Paul Williams of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Alabama:

People are afraid of coming to church.

Revs. Matt Lacey and R.G. Lyons, in a statement on behalf of 150 United Methodist pastors who signed a letter opposing the law:

We feel that many of these elements, written by members of the State House and Senate who campaign on Christianity, are not representative of the message of Christ who welcomed the stranger despite country of origin or status.”

Rev. Diana Jordan Allende, of Alabama:

If immigration is a crisis, it’s a humanitarian crisis that should concern us, not motivate us to criminalize desperate people. Men, women and children come here seeking a better life through hard work and sacrifice, performing work that Alabama needs them to do.”

Allison Neal, the legal director of the ACLU of Alabama:

The requirement that employers demand documentation from anyone they suspect of working illegally is likely to result in ‘systematic racial profiling of anyone who looks or sounds foreign’.”

Mary Bauer, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center:

This will have an incredibly chilling effect on children and on parents. It turns school officials and other government officials into, kind of, immigration agents, and that’s a terrible message for kids and families.”

Rep. Pebblin Warren, District 28 representative and Democrat from Tuskegee:

This will hurt private businesses, farmers and contractors. It will have a more devastating effect on legals rather than illegals. Our contractors—who totally depend on migrant workers … Prices will go up, and people will feel it. Lord have mercy on this country.”

What The Law’s Supporters Are Saying:

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL responding to Laura Ingraham’s question of about whether he believes it’s bad for Alabama’s children to be leaving school:

It’s a sad thing that we’ve allowed a situation to occur for decades that large numbers of people are in the country illegal and it’s going to have unpleasant, unfortunate consequences.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-AL

Those are the intended consequences of Alabama’s legislation with respect to illegal aliens…We don’t have the money in America to keep paying for the education of everybody else’s children from around the world. We simply don’t have the financial resources to do that. Second, with respect to illegal aliens who are now leaving jobs in Alabama, that’s exactly what we want.

In June, 2011: “As your congressman on the house floor, I will do anything short of shooting them… illegal aliens need to quit taking jobs from American citizens.”

Gov. Robert Bentley, governor of Alabama:

Hearing about failing Alabama farms: “Those are anecdotal stories. It’ll work itself out.”

Rep. Scott Beason, AL-17th, Sponsor of H.B. 56:

Our responsibility is to the people that elect us, to the people of Alabama. If there are other states out there who want to welcome an illegal workforce and displace their own workers, they should invite them there.”

Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and architect of H.B. 56 and similar anti-immigrant laws:

It’s self-deportation at no cost to the taxpayer. I’d say that’s a win.”

Gov. Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona:

When I was going to school we always had to bring our birth certificates for whatever reason they needed it at that point in time.”

I think it’s important to find out who is going to our schools and if they’re legal or if they’re illegal.”

We never like to see families breaking up, but the bottom line is, probably those leaving Alabama are probably going back to Mexico. But we are a nation of laws and American citizens, tax-paying people, the members of our country ought not to have to take care of illegal immigration and all the issues that go with it — education, health care, incarceration.”

Alabama will survive.”

The National Press Comments:

New York Times editorial:

“As for Alabama, one has to wonder at such counterproductive cruelty. Do Alabamans want children too frightened to go to school? Or pregnant women too frightened to seek care? Whom could that possibly benefit?”

New York Times, editorial:

Alabama’s law is the biggest test yet for “attrition through enforcement’… All you have to do, they [immigration restrictionists] say, is make life hard enough and immigrants will leave on their own. In such a scheme, panic and fear are a plus; suffering is the point…If Alabama succeeds in driving out all of its estimated 120,000 unauthorized immigrants, restrictionists will surely cheer. They will have only 49 states and 11 million more people to go.”

Los Angeles Times editorial:

Alabama’s law is cruel and unnecessary. But the state isn’t solely to blame for the legal mess. Nor is Blackburn, though her decision to allow police to enforce immigration laws contradicts those of other federal judges who blocked similar laws in Arizona and Georgia. The fact is that a significant portion of the fault lies with Washington.”

Washington Post editorial:

The clear intent of Alabama’s viciously xenophobic immigration law—and the likely effect, now that most of it was upheld by a federal judge this week—is to hound, harass and intimidate illegal immigrants into uprooting their lives and moving elsewhere.”

Birmingham News editorial board:

We still believe much of the immigration law, even many of the parts affirmed by Blackburn, is mean-spirited and overreaching. Lawmakers should repeal it and start over with a more reasonable law. That would certainly cost the state less, in dollars and in reputation, than it will to enforce the law on the streets and defend it in the courts.”

Joey Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer, blogger, and columnist for The Birmingham News:

I’ll say it again: Just because it’s a law doesn’t make it right, and many actions have been illegal through our history that shouldn’t have been — lots of them right here in Alabama. There is no part of ‘illegal’ that I don’t understand; but there are parts that I, as an American, refuse to accept.”

Ilyse Hogue, senior adviser at Media Matters for America:

Alabama has asked it citizens to cross invisible boundaries of humanity – waging political battles on the backs of school children, cutting access to the most basic human need, like water. The faces fleetingly captured in the media in Alabama before disappearing into the shadows are victims of a political system that encourages grandstanding over problem solving.”

Neal Vickers, radio journalist for WERC and the Alabama Radio Network:

Alabama lawmakers, led by Republicans like Beason and Taylor, have sparked an immigration Armageddon. They’ve pitted businesses against customers, law enforcement against citizens, and teachers against students.

Amanda Peterson Beadle, blogger at Think Progress:

Because the law defines unlawful ‘business transactions’ very broadly to include ‘any transaction between a person and the state or a political subdivision of the state,’ the mere act of paying income taxes might qualify. Thus, if an undocumented immigrant pays their taxes, they will be guilty of a felony, but if they don’t they will also be guilty of a felony because Alabama punishes tax evaders with up to five years in prison. In other words, Alabama’s anti-immigrant law effectively makes it a crime to simply live as an undocumented immigrant in the state.

VamosTogether thanks American Progress for its contribution to this page- Read American Progress’ collection of quotes, available here.

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