Alabama’s Immigration Law: The New Jim Crow


Editors Note: Since the writing of this article, several provisions of H.B. 56, including the education provisions discussed below, have been enjoined by the courts.

Alabama’s new law—with provisions against hiring, harboring or transporting undocumented immigrants—is bad enough for adults. But it is potentially disastrous for kids. 

By requiring schools to determine the immigration status of every student at enrollment, the law makes it hard to tell the difference between educators and immigration officials.  It already has immigrant parents asking, “Should we keep our children out of school in September?” 

On the surface, Alabama’s H.B. 56 appears to be fashioned after Arizona’s infamous S.B. 1070 law. But the real model wasn’t so far away. Take a good look. This law was inspired by something a lot closer to home: Jim Crow.

H.B. 56, which goes into effect on Sept. 1, justifies the requirement as a way to keep track of just how much money the state is spending to educate the children of undocumented immigrants. Never mind that immigrants—both legal and illegal—support schools by paying Alabama’s regressive sales tax (10 percent here in Montgomery, including on food) and local property taxes.

Some will argue that children brought here illegally should not get a public education. But the Supreme Court ruled otherwise almost 30 years ago, in Plyler v. Doe. In 1982, the court ruled that Texas schools could not deny enrollment to the children of undocumented immigrants. The decision found that children—even those here illegally—had 14th Amendment protections, should not be punished for the actions of their parents, and were safe from discrimination in the absence of substantial state interests to the contrary.  

Wanting to “take account” of the costs of ESL fails the substantial interest test. The majority in Plyler also said that refusing to educate these students “raises the specter of a permanent caste of undocumented resident aliens,” a permanent  “underclass” of illiterates who would burden society far more than the cost of educating them.

Maybe history has inured Alabama to such an underclass. The law requires school officials to keep track of students “born outside the jurisdiction of the United States.” But it goes even further. Schools must also determine which U.S. citizens among their students have parents who are “aliens not authorized to be in the United States.”  

Alabama didn’t go the Texas route and outright deny the right to an education. But H.B. 56 is a thinly veiled way to discourage immigrant parents from enrolling their children in school. It reminds one of the poll taxes and literacy tests that made voting, although theoretically legal, an impossible act for so many African Americans a half-century ago. 

It’s unclear exactly how schools will identify the unauthorized parents, and that’s part of its poisonous charm. Birth certificates don’t include the legal status of parents. Will all parents now be required to prove their legal status, or only those who look like immigrants? Must educators infer which soccer mom is a likely prospect? Will children be asked where their parents were born? In the absence of evidence to the contrary, schools are instructed to presume that the student should be tracked under the new law.

All of these scenarios are ugly; they will make immigrant parents unwilling to enroll their kids. But as a nation, we can’t afford to leave them behind. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 20 percent of the students in grades K-12 in 2009 were the children of immigrants. Policies that don’t meet their educational needs or encourage their parents to keep them from school will leave us all behind as a nation. The cost will be far more than what Alabama pays ESL teachers.  

The new law is likely to drive some undocumented immigrants away from Alabama, as its authors intended. But it will also set in stone the underclass that the Supreme Court predicted. Like Jim Crow, the law strips away rights, from having legally enforceable contracts to accepting a ride to the bus stop. Like the segregated schools of Jim Crow, this law puts obstacles in the path of immigrant parents who want their kids to become educated.

Educators have not shown great enthusiasm for the law, and they shouldn’t. To his credit, Joe Morton, Alabama’s state superintendent of education, has decided that the law doesn’t take effect until after schools enroll students for the 2011-2012 school year. So it won’t be enforced until August 2012. Morton’s most likely counting on the law being declared unconstitutional by then.

No teacher or principal relishes the prospect of turning students or parents over to Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). None would want to help divide families. Yet Alabama teachers will soon be doing just that. Although the law includes nominal privacy protection, it specifically exempts requirements related to ICE. “Every state actor” must report known illegal immigrants.  

Obviously, any children pulled from school will suffer. The rest of us suffer, too. As a state and as a nation, we need as many well-educated people as possible in the years ahead. And for educators, already struggling as society’s latest whipping boy, the law is a blow to professional integrity. Teachers’ very ability to succeed depends on being trusted allies of students and families. That’s going to be tough to do after Alabama makes them deputies of ICE.

Costello is the director of Teaching Tolerance. 


I am 75 years old, born with

Submitted by Tobias A. Weissman on 13 June 2012 - 9:15am.

I am 75 years old, born with a handicap called Cerebral Palsy. I am mostly self taught since at the time, which was in the 1940's, the attitude in those days was that children born with a handicap had no or little intelligence to even attend school. Attitudes haven't changed much especially towards aliens. I was under the impression that there is no such thing as an illegal alien. The Statue of Liberty off the shores of New York City has on it Bring All Ye Opressed-- Nohing mentioned, legal or illegal. If a person comes to our shores and does a criminal act, then that person should be deported, not children either brought here or born here by so-called illegal aliens. To have such laws in forced degrade us to a lower esteem.

It is not just in Alabama, it

Submitted by Arizona Mom on 14 July 2011 - 6:10pm.

It is not just in Alabama, it is in Arizona where I have lived for the last 15 years. I do think the illegals need to go back to the country they came from. If they want to come to the United States then they need to do it the right way and follow the laws. The illegals who have babies here are called anchor babies and there are so many of them it is ridicious when I work very hard every day and pay taxes to support these kids and the families who sit on welfare collecting all this money they do not desire. I see many families who work hard and still can not afford things for their families and need the help from the state but can not get the help they need because all the illegals have taken the money. The state has now shut down the medical insurance thye offered due to too many people in the state of Arizona requesting the need for it, its the illegals who have a ton of kids and sit at home because they are not legal to work here in the United States. i think every state should bring the law in and maybe they will realize they need to do the right way or stay out.

If the law doesn't work, change it.

Submitted by Anonymous on 23 September 2014 - 6:58pm.

The people you refer to are in the United States "illegally" because the laws do not allow enough immigration legally to meet the needs of the United States and its businesses. People do not leave their home countries to go to the United States because it is better. They go because they have no hope back at home. If you are saying that people who are needed and wanted by many (they are getting paid to work) should go back to a place where they not only have no opportunity to succeed, but also face being murdered by gang violence, then you are not only heartless, but also choosing to cut off your nose to spite your face. Deporting people who are working, whether they entered the United States legally or illegally, will harm the economy that you live in.

Thank you for writing this

Submitted by Gloria Honda on 7 July 2011 - 11:46pm.

Thank you for writing this article and reminding us of our history of discrimination and how we have created obstacles that prevent just treatment of all people, including children. I wonder how the Teachers' Union serves as an ally to teachers and the business of public education against policies that specifically target some/immigrant families?
Your comments about the costs of a poorly educated underclass in our nation keeps the needs of educating students and our need for a compassionate society in focus. Bravo for Superintendent Joe Morton in choosing not to implement the law until 2012. Will constitutional clarity overturn this by then?
Your article illustrates how racism continues to perpetuate a hierarchy that promotes the entitlement of white values over the needs of all people, especially those we can target as not belonging. Our students are learning biases with a long shelf life that will affect their actions toward one another and their perception of the people they live among. As you closed, a trusting relationship is essential to successful learning. It is not only the immigrant families that will be affected by this, but also the impact that emotional feelings and beliefs affecting actions will have on the entire community of students, teachers, and families in Alabama and our nation.

How can anyone in good

Submitted by LaquitaJohnson on 22 June 2011 - 7:30am.

How can anyone in good conscience compare the injustice against African Americans brought here as slaves to people who came here willingly and illegally. I do not wish to prevent anyone from going to church, however if not this law then what should be done to prevent the trafficking of illegal immigrants. FYI the only people who can vote at election time are citizens of the United States. These people who want so badly to have a voice in our politics they would benefit more by envolving themselves in the politics of the government of the country they came from. Shame on anyone who compares African Americans to criminals here illegally.

Laquita, That their presence

Submitted by Jeff on 22 June 2011 - 12:36pm.

That their presence here in this country is a violation of our immigration laws is not disputed. But that does not address the issue of whether the laws in question are unjust. I ask you, should a man or woman be called a criminal just because they cross a border to get something better for his or her family. I remind you of the woman in ohio (I think) who was charged with a felony because she lied about her residence to get her child in a better school district.

Additionally, the article was focusing on the use of laws to prohibit or chill the exercise a right otherwise allowed. Under the current Supreme Court presedent, a school dostrict may not refuse to provide education to an undocummented student. The Alabama law attempts to get around that protection by legislating in another manner. That is what the Jim Crow Laws did. The comparison was not between the plight of the groups but the manner in which the legislation was attempting to discriminate against them.

I would like to see the

Submitted by John on 21 June 2011 - 11:06pm.

I would like to see the word/term "alien" banned from all references to illegal immigrants. First adjective definition of "alien" in Webster's English Dictionary: foreign, strange, distasteful to, counter to. Respect ALL peoples!!!

I appreciate the various

Submitted by Michael on 21 June 2011 - 5:03pm.

I appreciate the various points of view presented and would like to add my own. I agree with Charles in that like most comparisons, the mark is missed. The treatment of African-Americans historically speaking is an abomination. I think it is also fair to say that many if not most of those here “illegally” may have come here of their own free will but given the economic situation they face in their own countries perhaps had little choice. I must also state that students who feel comfortable enough to confide in me regarding their status point out that the decision to come to America was not necessarily theirs but that of their parents. Penalizing them for their parent’s decision is wrong. I teach in NYC and fear I would willingly violate the law if a similar one were to be passed here. I also work a second job where I stand side by side with men who are here “illegally”. I would rather break bread with them than most legal citizens I know. Once we start looking at the men, women, boys and girls for who they are and NOT their immigration status I believe we can begin to see the good that can come of things and move forward. I feel I must also mention the often forgotten point: the only people who are truly here legally are the ones we saw fit to run off their land and stick in horrible places known as reservations. Don’t get me started on the ills of that endeavor. There are now two states that I will remove from my list of potential places to settle. BTW...Thank you for all the work your wonderful organization does!!

Sounds like the premise

Submitted by Daniel Cameron Morris on 21 June 2011 - 3:42pm.

Sounds like the premise behind my 2010 article for World Poverty and Human Rights @ Harvard.

"Jim Crow Citizenship Birth & Land Laws For Indigenous Peoples in Peru Linked to Unchecked Corruption By Governmen Mining and Oil Interests"

Thank you for writing this.

Submitted by Jackie on 21 June 2011 - 3:32pm.

Thank you for writing this. I am sharing it with as many people as I can.

Thank you for your insightful

Submitted by Debi Bray on 17 June 2011 - 1:36pm.

Thank you for your insightful article. As a teacher in California, we are faced with a myriad of financial woes and have lost many great teachers due to budget cuts. Historically, some will revert to blaming the illegal students who walk our campuses. If every state adopts such tactics as Alabama is doing, where would these children go? Would they go to the streets? Would they look for any means to survive? Would they adopt illegal practices? Would cities have to hire more police to protect the average citizen? Would the already crowded jails now be overflowing with juveniles? The end result is ludicrous. Education and acceptance is the only answer.
We all have a responsibility to educate and empower all of our students and parents (not just those who may be illegal).

Thank you for posting this. I

Submitted by Hataya Tubtim on 21 June 2011 - 2:34pm.

Thank you for posting this. I am going to share it with as many people as I can

Thank you for writing this.

Submitted by Louise on 14 June 2011 - 3:07pm.

Thank you for writing this. We are invisible, even though we number 50 million strong. We only become visible during election time or slow news seasons.

Louise, You're right! When

Submitted by Debbie on 13 June 2012 - 10:45am.

You're right! When it's convenient to the politians, immigrants are used in whatever venue needed at that particular time. I am white born and raised in the U.S. and English is my native language. I am also an ESL teacher who is fluent in Spanish. Most of my students are from Mexico. I am saddened, disappointed, frightened, and enraged at this new law in Alabama! When teachers are FORCED to "snitch" on their students, aren't they violating FERPA? How can the Alabama state government overpower the U.S. FERPA law? Makes you go, mmm-mmm?
Anytime, we U.S. American citizens allow children to be cheated of an education, we stumble back in time. Without immigration, the U.S. population would shrink. Don't believe me? Check it out! On average, most U.S. citizens have 2.5 children, which means we are barely replacing ourselves. These immigrant children are part of our country's future, so limiting their potential by making their parents afraid of deportation is cruel and detrimental to our future.

I have to ask is this story

Submitted by Charles Hutchinson on 20 June 2011 - 6:45pm.

I have to ask is this story for real? It is shameful to compare Blacks, who were brought to the United States against their will, made slaves, made legal citizens, and then had those legal rights taken away by Jim Crow laws to illegal immigrants from Mexico. These laws in Alabama will not affect legal immigrants only illegal.

No, afraid not. Children,

Submitted by danya on 26 June 2011 - 5:52pm.

No, afraid not. Children, blameless, born here, clearly citizens, will not remain and survive having their mother or father, or both, deported. Do we want educated citizenry, or delinquents
of broken homes?

Dear Mr. Hutchinson, This

Submitted by Rachael Poe on 25 June 2011 - 9:30pm.

Dear Mr. Hutchinson,

This nation was founded on immigrants, both what you would call "legal" and what you would call "illegal". By "illegal", I would assume you mean those who didn't get permission from those people already here. Let me ask you some questions. Did the Spanish that founded St. Augustine, Florida in 1565 ask the Native Americans for permission? Did the English that built Jamestown in 1607 ask for permission? Did the Pilgrims that built the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1620 ask for permission? Did the Americans that settled in California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, and Wyoming, which were part of Mexico until surrendered to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 (except for southern Arizona, which the United States purchased later in 1853), ask permission from it's Mexican owners? If you judged these European-Americans the same way you judge undocumented immigrants from Mexico, it's only fair to conclude then they were also "illegal".

Please refrain from using the word "legal" or "illegal" to refer to immigrants. Yes, there are many who are here in violation of U.S. immigration laws. However, there is no such thing as a "legal" or "illegal" human being. There are merely "documented" and "undocumented" immigrants. So use those terms, please. I would also like to know if you are absolutely certain that all of your immigrant ancestors came here with proper documentation. As a European American who can trace her ancestry back to the Mayflower, even I am not sure that all mine had proper documentation. So I wouldn't get too indignant about undocumented immigrants if I were you!

Having said that, this law can, and probably will, affect documented as well as undocumented families. Who do you think the teacher will automatically suspect of being undocumented? The blond-haired blue eyed girl that speaks monolingual English, or the bilingual Hispanic boy? The WASP parents that can easily communicate in the teacher's language, or the Chinese parents struggling to master English? Any Alabama student or family that is non-White, doesn't speak English, speaks limited English, or speaks English with a foreign accent. I doubt that you or I will ever suffer the indignity of having our "right to be here" questioned. Just because a law will never be applied to people like us doesn't make it a fair law.

People residing in the United States are entitled to certain rights, regardless of their status. It's already been established that all children residing in the United States have the right to our educational system, regardless of their status or the status of their parents. But this law could very well discourage families from taking advantage of this right. This could create a permanent underclass. Children should not have to pay for the crimes of their parents!

It's amazing how easily we demonize those people we do not understand, but also are willing to let innocent people (ex: children) get caught up in complicated social issues which they have little control over.

I came across this site quite

Submitted by Karen Nelson on 10 December 2013 - 1:09am.

I came across this site quite by accident.

I just wanted to say Ms Poe, I greatly appreciate your post.

I am a British born Mauritian Creole, I was born in London. I also live in London. My husband on the other hand emigrated to the US in 03 (it's a long story) We were divorced and remarried in 09. The US immigration process has prevented our son and I from being with him thus far.

However to be truthful, I have absolutely no desire to go to the US. None. The UK is not perfect by any means but my days we do not deny anyone and I mean anyone what is needed to live. Is this drain on our resources? I'm sure but I would gladly pay taxes and contribute to a fellow man's existence than not and contribute to his demise.

That to me is what makes a nation great.

AMEN. Many fellow Americans

Submitted by marifer on 13 June 2012 - 11:32pm.

AMEN. Many fellow Americans are under the assumption that all undocumented immigrants are not trying to get their proper documentation to stay in this country when in reality many of them get ripped off by trying. I am not saying anymore because I agree with all of the above.

As I write this I am in a

Submitted by Matt B on 15 July 2011 - 10:24am.

As I write this I am in a self turmoil about Alabamas new law. I can only think of how my own family came to America in the early 1700s, aboard a ship that would in modern day be considered, run by a coyote. We came here for a better and more prosperous life. To be free of a tyrannical government that wanted to control our way of life. I am a white, red blooded American, a republican and a construction worker. I love my country, I support my coutry,
but I don't see a difference in my own families movement to this beautiful land. I guess I should only be grateful that there were no such thing as border potrol or coast-guard in 18th century Americas.

This law is a demonstration

Submitted by Cornelius Spikes on 22 June 2011 - 2:36pm.

This law is a demonstration of overt racism by the status qoe and shows the degree to which they'll go to maintain the status qoe. Racism and discrimination, to an extent, is embedded in the fabric of our society and pre-dates all of us. Further, such a situation/law could very easily spill over and effect "others" who look different from those who represent the status qoe. In short, people of color, therefore, like-minded individuals, regardless of color, need to work colaboritively to address such issues. The rediculousness of it all is that there is no such thing as race, it is only a social contruction created in the late 1600 and 1700 hundreds by Europeans who created a raciacl hierarchy placing themselves at the top of the hierarchy and established an international racial/social contract. Do not think this could not happen to YOU!!!

Maureen is right and the

Submitted by Emilio Rodriguez on 22 June 2011 - 1:15pm.

Maureen is right and the comparison of immigrants to blacks in this country should not be considered a sign of disrespect. I don't think many would argue that the early histories of Blacks and Latinos in this country was similar in many regards (though there were some similarities). That being said, the way our laws are applied to black and brown people today IS strikingly similar. Moreover, the same political actors seeking to maintain White supremacy over Blacks are also trying to maintain White supremacy over Latinos by constantly pushing for harsher anti-immigrant legislation. History reveals that this is no coincidence.

Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," thoroughly discusses racism's incredible ability to adapt to modern times. When slavery was abolished, slavery's supporters invented the Black Codes and Jim Crow; when Jim Crow was abolished, supporters of Jim Crow--the political and often actual grandchildren of slavery's supporters--invented the so-called "War on Drugs," which statistics show disproportionately affects Blacks and Latinos. It is not surprising that the same people fighting to prolong and strengthen the so-called War of Drugs are also the same parties responsible for the evergrowing conflation of criminal and immigration laws in this country (also known as "crImmigration") as well as laws like Arizona's SB1070 and Alabama's HB56.

The Jim Crow system of control of the past was definitely created to oppress blacks, but the NEW Jim Crow, the latest chapter in the evolution of systemic and legalized racism in this country, has been expanded to include immigrants, especially Latinos. This calls for Blacks and Latinos to work together to defeat a common enemy, not to fight amongst each other and divert resources and energy away from the real culprits, proponents of white supremacy and racial hierarchy.

"These laws in Alabama will

Submitted by Anabel on 22 June 2011 - 7:37am.

"These laws in Alabama will not affect legal immigrants only illegal."
There is an important detail you are missing, there are many USA born children whose parents are undocumented. They are as affected by these laws in Alabama, Arizona or Georgia as much as their parents.....and eventually, this non-sense will affect us all,if nothing else it should question our moral stands.

Charles, you are assuming all

Submitted by Christian Clark on 21 June 2011 - 5:17pm.

Charles, you are assuming all illegal immigrants were brought her of their own volition. Many were lied to by people they trusted in their home country, believing they were coming here legally. Others were "imported" (kidnapped) and brought here to work as slaves. Many children were merely following their parents orders, which under some religions is a higher law than any nation. There are countless involuntary reasons for illegal immigrants to be here. For instance, Fidel Castro sent murderers across the sea in reaction to US policy, many of whom are still imprisoned in Atlanta. Lastly, many have no choice but to come here or remain here longer than they are allowed because it is a life or death situation to return/stay in their home country. At my prior place of work, one woman traversed the pacific from Laos on a raft... while pregnant! She gave birth on the trip. This was not an easy choice for her as you can imagine. however, it was remain and be killed along with her unborn child, or risk her life to get here.

I understand why you would take offense to a slavery comparison, especially if you are not involved with the reality facing many immigrants not covered by the popular media. The worst examples are when women are kidnapped and "imported" as slaves or indentured servants. For instance, many Asian "massage" parlors use women who speak little or no English to work without pay. They lie and threaten the "immigrants" in order to keep them under their control. I apologize if the following comparison appears to be a harsh or insensitive example, but it is an objective response to your statement. A large difference between pre-Civil War slavery and modern illegal immigrant "slaves," is that the cost of "importing" these immigrant slaves is that their worth is much less than slaves prior to the Civil War. As an analogy, if you had to pay $1,000 upfront and $100 per month on maintenance for each car, but the car became worth less over time (i.e. venereal diseases for massage parlors). Would you place much value in the car? Especially when replacement costs are so low? However, slaves prior to the Civil War had significant economic value (aside from the moral value of their lives) because the States recognized the slaves as property. So, through forced "breeding" and expensive importation, slaves became a valuable "property." However, the illegal immigrant slaves value is greatly diminished and much more "expendable."

Charles, your view is

Submitted by Stephen Villano on 21 June 2011 - 3:47pm.

Charles, your view is extremely narrow and to be honest, frightening for what kind of a nation I'll be leaving to my grandchildren.
First, you would discourage children of illegal aliens in this nation to get an education, they no longer would have confidentiality with their counselors, their teachers or even their schoolmates. They would be in constant fear of being deported without notice or having their family deported, essentially making them an orphan. That you wish to break the trust between student and educator is frightening and reminiscent of the Nazi youth corps!

Meanwhile, such laws already in force removed my rights, where I returned home from this war, went to get a job and I am presumed guilty of being an illegal alien until I prove myself innocent! This is what I fought and buried good friends to protect?!
I left this land having rights that I entrusted you with, to retain and defend them in my absence, to find that trust betrayed.
Thanks for nothing. Your shortsightedness betrays this once great nation's most treasured rights and institutions, turning this into an increasingly fascist nation. A nation that I no longer recognize as my home, thanks to the erosion of the very foundation of all things American.

Stephen, the comments made by

Submitted by Evette on 22 June 2011 - 8:23am.

Stephen, the comments made by Charles are the reality of the history of slavery in this country of Africans. Anyone who is trying to compare current immigrant issues with the importation of Africans to America through violent slavery tactics, the killing and death at sea of hundreds of thousands of Africans stripped from their homeland without regard to the devastation to their families, and the unabashed selling of human beings into a permanent underclass is showing their lack of understanding of the destructive nature that these events STILL on African American psyche. Jim Crow was initiated years after African Americans were "given" the right to vote, to keep LEGAL Americans of African descent from voting, and was only one of the many creative ways White Americans used to illegally discriminate against LEGAL citizens. That history cannot be compared to the circumstances of immigrants in the US today, who are here illegally, but still benefit from all of the social programs including a free public education. I do not agree with the current laws that would force schools and educators to "Out" illegal immigrants. And besides, the children of illegal immigrants have nothing to do with the situation their were brought into by their parents.

Charles, we disagree. The law

Submitted by Maureen Costello on 21 June 2011 - 11:01am.

Charles, we disagree. The law will affect many people who are not here illegally, including American citizens. The law makes it illegal for me, for example, to give an undocumented immigrant a ride home from church. More damaging, it will be directed against a lot of people who are simply perceived to be undocumented--and that means mainly Latinos.

I agree that today's desperately poor undocumented immigrants are not in the same situation as the black American citizens who were denied rights under Jim Crow. What can be compared, however, is the attitude of those in power who are passing the law, and the familiar tools they've chosen to use against a vilified group.

I disagree. Jim Crow was a

Submitted by Steven Eighner on 17 October 2011 - 10:09am.

I disagree. Jim Crow was a system of laws designed to give whites advantages if they were qualified or not while denying opportunities to blacks regardless if they were qualified or more deserving... but these black people were citizens of the country and thus, the laws were unconstitutional. The current belief in what's called "reverse racism" comes because Affirmative Action has been used in the same way as the old Jim Crow laws but with the victims and perpetrators reversed. JFK did not create Affirmative Action to create opportunities for blacks who were not qualified or deserving of opportunities, he created Affirmative Action to remove the barriers that denied blacks opportunities and gave them legal rights to sue in cases where they were denied opportunities or were made victims of other forms of discrimination.

Most of the illegals come here and refuse to begin the process of becoming American citizens. There's no signs or ad's in the newspapers asking them to come here... they simply come whether wanted or not. Where I live, most of the illegals come from Guatamala.

Now, before you start attacking what I am saying here, let me point out where the real racism is here and you Maureen are guilty of this. Legal Hispanic Americans came here, learned the language, learned the laws, learned our culture and made great sacrifices both in adopting our ways and financially to go through the process of becoming legal citizens... and people like yourself make all of that seem like an insulting slap to the face because they didn't have to do any of it and get everything they wanted anyhow because the illegals do none of this but get the same pay and protection under law.

Many legal Hispanics do this out of respect for this country and what it gives them while many illegals have no respect at all. I worked at three locations where non American Hispanics destroyed property, deficated all over bathrooms and even killed people in one instance where a legal citizen was run over by an illegal who was then deported rather than imprisoned because he wasn't an American.

No Maureen, these people come to Alabama and refuse to become citizens... then you are actually destroying the very process they should be pursuing to become Americans because you take away every reason for them to become Americans. If they want to work in this state, then they should become Americans or they SHOULD be treated exactly as this law says to show them we welcome them to this state and to become fellow Alabamians... but there is a process to follow to do this that every other foreign born person in the world is expected to follow and they will no longer be an exception.

I do not like seeing people discriminated against but I ask you something, are legal Hispanic citizens not being discriminated against because of all the illegals? I have worked with many Hispanics and many of the people who respect us and this country became Americans and they have no respect for their fellow Mexicans and Guatamalans who refuse to do the same.

Did you know Maureen that Mexico's unemployment rate is half that of the United States, their wages are increasing dramatically and that 10% of mexico's entire population now lives illegally in the US? There are between 11 to 15 million Hispanics living here illegally with most coming from Mexico (around 10 million) which has a population of around 110 million?

Maureen, these people are no longer the victims and impoverished people we used to think they were and if Americans are arrested in Mexico being there illegally, it's a mandatory 2 year prison term for the first offense and 10 years for a second?? And OUR laws are wrong?

Maureen, wake up as you don't have a clue what's going on and most who think like you have not got any idea what the facts actually are. If you want the law changed then look at the problem for what it is and then examine what Hispanic Americans go through to become Americans and people like yourself destroy every reason any Hispanic would have to become a citizen. It's really not that hard from what my Hispanic friends say and my Chinese neighbor said he learned our culture, our laws and our language before he even left China because when he got off the plane he immediately went to the immigration office, explained his situation that he was prepared and they actually expedited his case. His brother and two sisters are coming here and they also learned our culture our laws and our language before coming to this country.

I'm sorry Maureen you are dead wrong here and I want you to examine what I have said very carefully as illegals are here "ILLEGALLY" and very few of them are even trying to become US citizens. We don't use illegals around here where I live to do menial labor... our children around here still mow yards to earn an allowance, we still have legal citizens bagging groceries and we still help one another out with crops. It's industrial employers hiring most of them paying them the same wages, the same benefits and even forcing some of us to speak Spanish to accommodate the illegals.

If you disagree with me then let's just throw the doors open and let everyone from around the entire world come here illegally as we don't have enough jobs for Americans if you haven't noticed the unemployment rate and if these illegals are doing jobs we Americans refuse to do... then maybe we should reform our welfare system to require people to accept any job offered before they can get any government aid so that unless they are retired or disabled they have to accept the work whether they want it or not.

Again, my apologies if you disagree but I will stand behind what I say 100% and while i do not want these people harmed physically in any way, unless they become legal US citizens or at least begin the process, I don't believe we owe them anything as we didn't invite them here, they came whether we wanted them here or not and if someone moves into my home without an invitation, I have a right to call the police and get them removed!

I have to agree with Charles.

Submitted by Remi on 21 June 2011 - 4:19pm.

I have to agree with Charles. Based on your article, Ms. Costello, the comparaison of the treatment of illegal immigrants to Black folks under Jim Crow is misleading at best and down right disrepectful at worst. While I'm sure illegal immigrants or those who are perceived to be illegal are discriminated against, it is nothing like Jim Crow. To suggest it shows a lack of historical awareness. The way mostly Latino illegal immigrants or those who are perceived to be illegal is similar to how many immigrant groups have been treated in this country in the past (i.e. Italians, Irish, Eastern Europeans, Asians, etc.) and in recent history (i.e. Arab looking people post-911). So yes it is discriminatory but it's far from Jim Crow. As a multiracial person I'm often mistaken to be Latina (amongst other racial categories) by White folks, Latinos, and others. I have been on the receiving end of many an anti-immigrant tirade, have been told to "go back to Mexico" or "where you came from", even denied service until providing the necessary form of ID that proves I'm a native born U.S. Citizen. Nonetheless, as an African-American woman who knows her history the closest modern day equivalent to Jim Crow is found in Israel in its treatment of its Arab-Israeli citizens. Of course, I don't agree with the Alabama law and I don't think students or school professionals should be used to "out" illegal immigrants. However, at the end of the day illegal immigrants can return to their home country (they may not want to) because they know where and which country it is, Black folks do not have that luxury. At best we can pay $200 to get a DNA test that will give us a geographical approximation. Latinos, nor any other immigrant group has to do that to know which country they came from. Which is why I think it's highly offensive that illegal immigrants compare their situation to Black folks during Jim Crow.

Remi, I find it interesting

Submitted by Jeff on 22 June 2011 - 12:15pm.

I find it interesting that you so readily accept that "those who are perceived to be illegal are discriminated against." I think that is the primary point of the original comment. The parrallel was that a sub-class was being created by the legislation. How or why the particular group came to be in the country was not the point of the article.

Israel's Arab citizens are

Submitted by Zev on 21 June 2011 - 10:39pm.

Israel's Arab citizens are just that - full and equal citizens of a secular state. They vote in Israeli elections and are represented in the Knesset (Parliament). The only free Arabs in that region are the citizens of Israel.

Technically that's true, just

Submitted by Remi on 24 June 2011 - 11:04am.

Technically that's true, just like the few Black folks who could pass the literacy and afford the poll taxes during Jim Crow were allowed to vote. But in practice the small number of Arabs who actually have citizenship in Israel are still treated as second-class citizens of a religious state. When there is one nation for all and an actual constitution, instead of an amalgamation of "laws", with a bill of rights than all people in Israël-Palestine can be real full citizens (not just technical ones) of a secular state. Unfortunately that is not currently how Arabs, or those who are perceived to be Arab, are treated in Israël.

Granted, the treatment of

Submitted by Amy on 21 June 2011 - 9:11pm.

Granted, the treatment of immigrants today does not exactly parallel with the treatment of African Americans - how could it? No two points in history can be exactly the same. But that is not the point here.

Perhaps the comparison should not be made - but the injustice of the law and the spirit of discrimination are what the author is trying to emphasize. The comparison that is being made is between the discriminatory laws, NOT the entire plights of each of the groups.

I, for one, would love to see people unite and stand up against common wrongs, instead of argue over the individual situation of one persecuted group versus another.

As long as we argue amongst ourselves, those who would continue the discrimination have won because they share a common belief.

I agree with Amy post on 21

Submitted by Elnora on 4 January 2012 - 8:34am.

I agree with Amy post on 21 June 2011; it is important that the human race work for equal and fair treatment of each other; race or specific circumstances, should not
trump the issue (discrimination).

Amy, I have to agree if

Submitted by mary on 25 July 2011 - 6:10pm.

Amy, I have to agree if everyone stood together on issues such as the immigrations laws and how they are discriminating against Latinos then this country would be a better place. These people are here in the United States trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Alabama is complaining about the money spent on educating these immigrates children, they need to take a closer look because 90% of these children are American citizens and are entitled to a education under the constitution.

You also should consider that

Submitted by Stephen Villano on 21 June 2011 - 4:15pm.

You also should consider that an illegal alien attending that church would cause the church, or at least the minister or priest, to be charged with harboring that alien.
Would the state demand a confession to clergy be reported, if the illegal alien confessed their status in confession?
Any charity that is feeding the poor would also be at risk of being charged.

Generally, evidence of

Submitted by Christian Clark on 21 June 2011 - 4:49pm.

Generally, evidence of confessions to ministers are protected by state/fed evidence rules as privileged information. I highly doubt any politician in Alabama would go against a non-Catholic church for harboring aliens, unless they tarnished the rep of the church enough that it is ostracized by the public. However, church leaders would likely lead their flock to backlash against the politicians to protect themselves. I am disinclined to believe that church members would follow a politician against their church leadership. However, this would be an interesting way to attack the law, by using a church as a martyr and opening the door to allow the clergy confession into court. I would think the media would be all over the case and Alabama politicians would react instantly by changing the law.