By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Saturday, July 19, a group held a demonstration to protest the current border crisis, to urge members of the U.S. House of Representatives to oppose a controversial immigration reform proposal that passed the Senate last year, to urge the administration to enforce existing border laws, and to oppose amnesty to millions of illegal aliens who are already here.
The protest in front of the North Shelby County Wal-Mart on U.S. Highway was part of the National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty, and Border Surge rally that took place I hundreds of communities across the country over July 18 and 19.
On Saturday morning, the Alabama Political Reporter spoke with participants of the event, which drew nationwide news coverage.
One of the organizers of the Alabama event, Deanna Frankowski from Leeds, told us that the “Make Them Listen” movement started as a Facebook page to oppose the push for amnesty and eventually they decided to do the rally. Frankowski said that there were close to 400 rallies happening concurrently across the country.
Frankowski said that the government should close the borders to further illegal immigration before addressing any of the other stuff. Right now the borders are, “Wide open” and it is time to, “Clean up the mess.” Frankowski said that this movement, “Will not end with this rally.” Frankowski predicted future events will happen in Alabama and across the country.
One participant who identified himself as the frequent Birmingham area talk radio caller, “Cornbread,” told the Alabama Political Reporter, “We don’t want amnesty. I have no problem with legal immigrants coming in the right way, but we should be a sovereign country.”
Cornbread said that the current immigration situation is not right and said, “We want to enforce our immigration laws.”
Becky Cheney from Montgomery said, “We are already struggling: Look at Detroit. Our bridges and infrastructure are in terrible shape and many people in this country are living in horrible conditions. Cheney said that our economy can not handle the influx of an additional 20 to 30 million immigrants over the next ten years.”
Cornbread said that the people that are coming for the most part are, “Not Rhodes scholars.” Many of the persons coming here are, “…thugs and criminals.”
Frankowski said that every state had a rally and states like Texas and California where they are feeling the effects of this more than we are at this point held several rallies. Frankowski emphasized that she is not opposed to Hispanics or to legal U.S. immigrants but the President is not abiding by the current law. The illegal immigrants are being used as, “Pawns in a political game,” by President Obama.
Frankowski did say, “I do think there needs to be an avenue for citizenship,” for non-criminal illegal aliens who are already here provided they pay a fine and go to the back of the line; but before Congress addresses that they need to close the border. Frankowski said that President Obama is bypassing Congress by making up his own immigration laws by executive order and is encouraging the current border crisis. “That $4 billion should be put on the border,” Frankowski said.
Frankowski said that most people on Hwy 280 were supportive of the event but there was some negative reaction as well. “One man threw a bottle at us.” Frankowski also said that one carload of people (she assumes were illegal) stopped and called their group un-Christian for not wanting them to come here.
The Alabama Political Reporter asked Cornbread if he favored the Senate bill which would give a pathway to citizenship to the over 12 million illegal alien already in this country and dramatically increase legal immigration to over two million persons a year. Cornbread said that he does not. Cornbread said that our economy can handle this. Importing the poorest of the poor from other countries and then putting them on some sort of welfare where they have to be taken care of by taxpayers for years will be a disaster for this country, Cornbread predicted.
Ms. Frankowski called the illegal immigration crisis a, “Sad situation.” Frankowski said that this is a national security crisis and is also a health crisis. Tuberculosis, measles, and scabies are coming in to this country along with the illegal aliens.
Frankowski said that state Senator Scott Beason had the foresight to try to do something about this at the state level with his bill, HB56 but was blocked by Obama and the federal government. Frankowski said that the Alabama event got national news coverage from CNN, Breitbart, Fox News, AL.com, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, as well as from the local talk radio stations.
While she herself is a conservative she does not see the border situation as a Republican or Democrat issue. It is a U.S. citizen issue, Ms. Frankowski said.
The Federal government recently backed off on a plan to house undocumented minors at the Center for Domestic Preparedness, a FEMA training facility located in Anniston. The Department of Health and Human Service is currently in the process of identifying facilities nationwide that could be used to house the flood of unaccompanied minors coming into the U.S. FEMA said the facilities are being evaluated to determine if they can provide temporary shelter space for children.
Since October, more than 52,000 unaccompanied children from Central and South America have entered the U.S. through its southwestern border. The children (most of them teen males) are in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement. Office of Refugee Resettlement statistics show about 6,775 unaccompanied children arrived in the U.S. each year from 2003-2011. That figure grew to 13,625 in 2012 and almost doubled to 24,668 in 2013.
The most common native country for the unaccompanied children is Guatemala, followed by El Salvador and Honduras. This new flood of illegal aliens started coming after President Obama began claiming the executive authority to give millions of illegal aliens who were brought here as juveniles by their parents legal status in the country in the 2012 election year to galvanize his support among immigrant voters, particularly Hispanics.
Alabama hospitals nearing COVID-19 summer surge levels
Wednesday was the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19.
Alabama hospitals reported caring for 1,483 people infected with COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of patients since Aug. 11, when the state was enduring its summer surge. Wednesday was also the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19.
The seven-day average of hospitalizations was 1,370 on Wednesday, the 36th straight day of that average rising. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 2,453 new cases Wednesday. The 14-day average of new cases was — for the eighth day in a row — at a record high of 2,192.
Across the country, more than 80,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, a record high and the 15th straight day of record hospitalizations nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a coronavirus tracking website.
The CDC this week recommended people not travel for Thanksgiving to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“The only way for us to successfully get through this pandemic is if we work together,” said Dr. Kierstin Kennedy, UAB’s chief of hospital medicine, in a message Tuesday. “There’s no one subset of the community that’s going to be able to carry the weight of this pandemic and so we all have to take part in wearing our masks, keeping our distance, making sure that we’re washing our hands.”
Kennedy said the best way she can describe the current situation is “Russian Roulette.”
“Not only in the form of, maybe you get it and you don’t get sick or maybe you get it and you end up in the ICU,” Kennedy said, “but if you do end up sick, are you going to get to the hospital at a time when we’ve got capacity, and we’ve got enough people to take care of you? And that is a scary thought.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported an increase of 60 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. Deaths take time to confirm and the date a death is reported does not necessarily reflect the date on which the individual died. At least 23 of those deaths occurred in November, and 30 occurred in other months. Seven were undated. Data for the last two to three weeks are incomplete.
As of Wednesday, at least 3,532 Alabamians have died of COVID-19, according to the Department of Public Health. During November, at least 195 people have died in Alabama from COVID-19. But ADPH is sure to add more to the month’s tally in the weeks to come as data becomes more complete.
ADPH on Wednesday announced a change that nearly doubled the department’s estimate of people who have recovered from COVID-19, bringing that figure up to 161,946. That change also alters APR’s estimates of how many cases are considered active.
ADPH’s Infectious Disease and Outbreak team “updated some parameters” in the department’s Alabama NEDSS Base Surveillance System, which resulted in the increase, the department said.
Judge reduces former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence
The trial court judge ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker on Wednesday reduced former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence from four years to just more than two.
Walker in his order filed Wednesday noted that Hubbard was sentenced to fours years on Aug. 9, 2016, after being convicted of 12 felony ethics charges for misusing his office for personal gain, but that on Aug. 27, 2018, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed convictions on five of those counts. The Alabama Supreme Court later struck down another count.
Hubbard’s attorneys on Sept. 18 filed a motion to revise his sentence, to which the state objected, according to court records, arguing that “Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency.”
Walker in his order cited state code and wrote that the power of the courts to grant probation “is a matter of grace and lies entirely within the sound discretion of the trial court.”
“Furthermore, the Court must consider the nature of the Defendant’s crimes. Acts of public corruption harm not just those directly involved, but harm society as a whole,” Walker wrote.
Walker ruled that because six of Hubbard’s original felony counts were later reversed, his entrance should be changed to reflect that, and ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday said Walker’s decision to reduce Hubbard’s sentence was the wrong message to send.
“Mr. Hubbard was convicted of the intentional violation of Alabama’s ethics laws, the same laws he championed in the legislature only later to brazenly disregard for his personal enrichment,” Marshall said in a statement. “Even as he sits in state prison as a six-time felon, Mike Hubbard continues to deny any guilt or offer any remorse for his actions in violation of the law. Reducing his original four-year sentence sends precisely the wrong message to would-be violators of Alabama’s ethics laws.”
Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19, has “mild symptoms”
It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn.
University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Iron Bowl and has mild symptoms, according to a statement from the university on Wednesday.
“This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allan, associate athletic director, in the statement. “He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.”
Saban had previously tested positive before Alabama’s game against Georgia but was asymptomatic and subsequently tested negative three times, a sign that the positive test could have been a false positive. He returned to coach that game.
It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn, given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for quarantining after testing positive and with symptoms. Neither Saban nor the university had spoken about that possibility as of Wednesday morning.
Civil rights leader Bruce Boynton dies at 83
The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.
Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton died from cancer in a Montgomery hospital on Monday. He was 83. The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.
“We’ve lost a giant of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “Son of Amelia Boynton Robinson, Bruce Boynton was a Selma native whose refusal to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant led to the landmark SCOTUS decision in Boynton v. Virginia overturning racial segregation in public transportation, sparking the Freedom Rides and end of Jim Crow. Let us be inspired by his commitment to keep striving and working toward a more perfect union.”
Boynton attended Howard University Law School in Washington D.C. He was arrested in Richmond, Virginia, in his senior year of law school for refusing to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant. That arrest and conviction would be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where Boynton and civil rights advocates prevailed in the landmark case 1060 Boynton vs. Virginia.
Boynton’s case was handled by famed civil rights era attorney Thurgood Marshal, who would go on to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1960 7-to-2 decision ruled that federal prohibitions barring segregation on interstate buses also applied to bus stations and other interstate travel facilities.
The decision inspired the “Freedom Rides” movement. Some Freedom Riders were attacked when they came to Alabama.
While Boynton received a high score on the Alabama Bar exam, the Alabama Bar prevented him from working in the state for years due to that 1958 trespassing conviction. Undeterred, Boynton worked in Tennessee during the years, bringing school desegregation lawsuits.
Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said on social media: “NAACP LDF represented Bruce Boynton, who was an unplanned Freedom Rider (he simply wanted to buy a sandwich in a Va bus station stop & when denied was willing to sue & his case went to the SCOTUS) and later Bruce’s mother Amelia Boynton (in Selma after Bloody Sunday).”
His mother, Amelia Boynton, was an early organizer of the voting rights movement. During the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965, she was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She later co-founded the National Voting Rights Museum and annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma. His father S.W. Boynton was also active in the Civil Rights Movement.
Bruce Boynton worked for several years at a Washington D.C. law firm but spent most of his long, illustrious legal career in Selma, Alabama, with a focus on civil rights cases. He was the first Black special prosecutor in Alabama history and at one point he represented Stokely Carmichael.
This year has seen the passing of a number of prominent Civil Rights Movement leaders, including Troy native Georgia Congressman John Lewis.