Elected officials often fail to understand the impact of the laws they pass. Exhibit A is Alabama’s harsh anti-immigrant law HB-56, which is costing the state millions, emptying its schools, and criminalizing religious practice. While the state’s political leaders delay in offering solutions to solve this unnecessary crisis, Alabamians continue to suffer.
As faith and community leaders across the state fight to repeal HB 56, they have a clear message for other states considering passing similar laws: “you’ll regret it.” Speaking alongside others who’ve seen the consequences of Alabama’s law first hand on a press call today, Pastor Ron Higey of Birmingham International Church made explicit the anti-Christian nature of the law:
From a Christian faith perspective I cannot comfortably explain why we would treat others this way – harshly and punitively. As Christians – as people of faith, we are called to a higher standard of how we live with and treat others. For these reasons I call on upon Christians and people of faith to stand against this law and call their legislators and voice their objections and concerns.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus famously asks his disciples, “what good is it to gain the whole world, yet lose your soul?” Pastor Higey’s comments should leave Alabama legislators questioning the value of a political triumph that wreaks such havoc and causes such wrenching pain.
For a recording of the call, click here.
Photo Credit: Justin Valas on Flickr
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Today, South Korean car company Hyundai is holding a shareholder meeting in Seoul, and prominent U.S. labor and civil-rights leaders will be there to voice their concerns about the company’s neutrality on Alabama’s anti-immigrant law HB-56.
According to Adam Luna of America’s Voice, a spokesperson from Hyundai told CNN that “the company does not take a position on the immigration law one way or the other.” America’s Voice, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, SEIU, and other American organizations are putting pressure on Hyundai and other automotive companies because of their significant presence in Alabama.
Here’s more info via The Birmingham News:
U.S. civil rights and labor leaders from several organizations are taking their concerns about Alabama’s immigration law to executives and investors of international auto industry companies in the state, starting with a Hyundai shareholder meeting today in Seoul South Korea.
… Civil rights and labor groups say it will be a compaign of progressive engagement. Representatives of the groups will address Hyundai’s shareholders today, along with those at Dailmer AG in April and Honda in June. Leaders of South Korea’s largest labor unions will co-host the event today in Seoul.
Automakers insist that the law doesn’t affect their companies, but a recent high-profile case indicates that this law is not only causing widespread profiling of Latino Alabamians but also impacting automakers’ employees from other parts of the world. In the fall, a German manager with Mercedes-Benz in Alabama was arrested for not having proper immigration documentation (he only had his German driver’s license with him).
You can sign America’s Voice petition calling on Hyundai and Honda to “put the brakes on hate,” here.
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In an op-ed in The Birmingham News, Samford University Professor Douglas Clapp reflects on a recent conference held at his school to discuss H.B. 56 and the Christian perspective on immigration:
Alabama deserves the sort of thoughtful dialogue I heard at the recent G92 South Immigration Conference. In response to the gloomy news about the effects of HB 56, a loose coalition of students and my colleagues at Samford University — an institution with historic roots in and a sustained relationship with the Alabama Baptist Convention — organized a series of sessions to examine the scriptural and theological foundations for a Christian perspective on immigrants and immigration.
I am grateful that Samford students paused to think more carefully and respond more thoughtfully. I am encouraged that the students’ maturity and kindness received compliments from our guests. I was touched by the gratitude of a young man from the Latino community who expressed his sincerest thanks that we would want to hear the voice of his community.
And I am hopeful that such dialogue — inside and outside of the church, inside and outside of the university, inside and outside of Alabama — will encourage a redemptive response to a people whom God has put in our midst.
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Rev. Jim Evans, a Baptist pastor in Auburn, Alabama and syndicated columnist, has a great column this week on Alabama’s harsh and counterproductive anti-immigrant law, HB-56. Evans, who spoke at a recent prayer service and press conference at the Alabama statehouse, writes:
Passed as HB56, the law has been variously identified and vilified as one of the toughest, if not the toughest, state immigration law in the country.
Almost immediately, state legislators became aware of many unintended consequences in the law that affected local business and licensing practices. But beyond these bureaucratic inconveniences, there exists a host of other problems — not the least of which is a total lack of compassion built into the bill.
This is where religious leaders felt compelled to speak. For a state as overtly religious as Alabama, it doesn’t make sense for us to support and defend such a regressive approach to immigration. One poll from a few years back suggests that something like 95 percent of Alabamians subscribe to some form of Christianity or Judaism. If that number is correct, the Scriptures of our faith ought to have some bearing on the sort of laws we pass and the way those laws treat certain groups of human beings in our midst.
Faith leaders have been part of the chorus of voices challenging Alabama’s law and Rev. Evans’ column continues to build on the momentum the faith community is gaining in their fight to overturn a law that criminalizes their ministries and fosters a climate of fear and suspicion.
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In a nod to the historic march of over forty years ago, civil rights activists, prominent religious leaders and working Americans are marching from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the state’s harsh voter-suppression laws that disenfranchise low-income and minority voters.
Hundreds of people are following in the footsteps of past leaders, some of whom have returned to build on their legacy:
“This is about repeating a part of Alabama’s past that does not bear repeating,” Murguia said of the state’s immigration law. “Voter suppression laws and anti-immigration laws are their way of turning back the clock, but we are not going to allow that to happen.”
Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat but Alabama native who was badly beaten during the attack on marchers in 1965, rallied marchers Sunday, telling them that the struggles for human rights in 1965 and in 2012 are the same.
“Forty-seven years ago I spilled a little blood on that bridge but that was nothing compared to those who died so that we could live in a better America,” Lewis told a large crowd in front of Brown Chapel AME Church, the same church marchers used to stage the 1965 march. “We march today for what we did 47 years ago — for what is fair, what is right and for what is just.”
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