By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Alabama Coalition on Immigrant Justice (ACIJ) has announced that they are holding a “Mega-March” in Montgomery on Sunday, May 27th.
The Alabama Political Reporter talked with ACIJ spokesperson and organizer Salvador Cervantes about the event. Mr. Cervantes said that the group was seeking the repeal of HB56 and its replacement HB658. Mr. Cervantes said that the group was pursuing a two track parallel process to get HB56/HB658 repealed: they are working the political process of seeking legislative appeal while hoping that the Supreme Court rules against the Arizona law (which would impact the case against HB56 in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta).
The ACIJ is expecting over 800 protestors to participate in the event. In their written statement the group said, “Groups from all over the state including Albertville, Alexander City, Athens, Clanton, Decatur, Dothan, Greater Birmingham and Russellville will be coming to Montgomery to participate in the march against discrimination and racism.“ At 3:00 on Sunday the ACIJ and their supporters will gather at the state capital and then the group will march from there to the Governor’s Mansion.
Mr. Cervantes said, “We are very disappointed with Governor Robert Bentley.” Mr. Cervantes said that Governor Bentley said on one day he would not sign the bill (HB658) and then the next day he signed it because the Governor lacked the “appetite” for a fight with the state legislature. Cervantes said that Bentley had a responsibility to tell the legislators to improve the bill and he did not.
‘The Alabama Political Reporter’ asked Mr. Cervantes if the farmers would have enough labor for the harvest season that is just beginning. Mr. Cervantes said that he has been meeting with a lot of them and “they have been hurting since last year.” “They are very scared about what kind of workers they can hire” this season.
Bernard Simelton, President of the NAACP Alabama State Conference, said in a written statement, “This fight isn’t just about immigration, as the legislature would have you believe. It’s about judging people on the color of their skin instead of the content of their heart. This is not the kind of law we want in Alabama, this is not who we are. We are one family, one Alabama marching together for justice.”
Mr. Cervantes said that he is an American citizen, but because he is a “brown skinned person” he has been stopped and asked to provide proof of legal residence under Alabama’s law. Mr. Cervantes said that that shouldn’t happen in Alabama and that is one reason why he is active in the HB56/HB658 repeal effort. Cervantes said that he preferred that we use the term “undocumented persons” because that is a more accurate description than the more commonly used “illegal aliens” term. “Undocumented persons” simple means people who have crossed the border without inspection he explained.
HB56, titled the Beason Hammon Alabama Citizen and Taxpayer Act, was passed last June as the strictest state anti-illegal immigration bill in the country. The law has been denounced by pro-immigrant groups, Alabama farmers and contractors, Churches, and President Obama’s U.S. Department of Justice. The federal government has led an effort in the courts to prevent the law from being enforced and the case is currently in the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
To learn more about the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice visit their website: