Alabama’s H.B. 56 is Bad for People of Color

Last week, a federal judge refused to block enforcement of Alabama’s anti-immigration law, HB 56. This law, the harshest anti-immigrant law in the country, requires law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect may be an undocumented immigrant and demands that K-12 schools track the immigration status of children. This law is bad for people, especially people of color. Since enactment, thousands of people have taken their children out of school, abandoned their jobs and have left Alabama altogether. This has been devastating to agriculture in the state, where millions of dollars of produce are simply rotting in the fields.

Regardless of the economic impact this law is having, what is important is that HB 56 is one of the most racist pieces of legislation passed since the passage of the infamous Arizona legislation, SB 1070. This law goes beyond giving the police the power to act as immigration officials. This law gives the authority to public education officials to register the immigration status of children attending public schools.

Like the Arizona bill, the Alabama law allows the police to stop anyone they think suspicious. But what does suspicious really mean? Does it mean having an accent? Or does it simply mean having brown skin? Yes, giving the police the power to act as immigration officials is about racial profiling. Even if the law stipulates that you have to be reasonable when apprehending someone, reason doesn’t factor into judging someone by the color of their skin. This law is immoral and unethical.

If this doesn’t alarm you, think of the other portion of the Alabama legislation: Schools are supposed to check the immigration status of students and their parents. It’s clear that this law is not about reason, but rather about bullying children of color and their parents. No wonder why people are leaving the state en masse! This law is wrong and it must be stopped.

But this is not only about Alabama legislating racism, but also about how the corporations are benefiting from having people jailed in their private prisons. It is known now that companies such as the GEO group – one of the private companies that manage detention centers throughout the country – lobby Congressional delegates and state legislators to draft pieces of legislation like Alabama’s HB 56 and Arizona’s infamous SB 1070. Increased detention of immigrants is a very profitable business for GEO, where they make an approximate of $150 per bed, per night.

We need to stop this injustice and take action against those who are making money off of having people in jail. Immigrants are also part of the 99 percent and we need to be part of the movement against the corporate fat cats. My question to you is, which side are you on? Are you on the side of the greedy banks and corporations, or on the side of the people?

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