By Andrea Salazar
House Democrats will be visiting Alabama Nov. 21 to bring attention to the effects the state’s immigration law has had on the Latino community.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), a stark opponent of the Alabama law, considered the strictest immigration law in the country, is leading the effort. Acknowledging that he does not expect any immigration measure to make it to the House or Senate floors before the next election, the congressman said the Alabama visit is to raise awareness.
“The more light you shed on the abusive anti-immigrant law of Alabama, the more likelihood there is that you’re going to defeat it,” Gutierrez said at a news conference Thursday. “We’re going there to say that we came to listen and in listening also to ask you what it is you would like us to do as we return to the Congress of the United States.”
HB56, the Alabama immigration law, requires schools to find out students’ immigration status and calls on police to check a person’s status during stops or arrests if there’s “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country unlawfully.
Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) is welcoming her colleagues to Alabama and calling on her state to play the role it did during the civil rights movement.
“So many of the injustices that this nation has faced have been addressed on the ground in Alabama, and once again I believe that we in Alabama will lead the way with making sure we get a federal immigration policy and not a piecemeal state by state effort,” Sewell said.
Gutierrez emphasized that all visiting representatives would be spending their own money to pay for the trip. To that effect, Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) said they were making the trip because immigration is an issue that affects everyone.
“If the law does not protect you today, it will not protect me tomorrow,” Gonzalez said. “We all have an interest in this.”
Pointing out that the author of the Arizona immigration law, Russell Pearce, was recalled in a special election this past month, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), warned politicians to take immigration seriously.
“That recall better be a harbinger for a lot of politicians that it’s time you took this issue of immigration in a serious way,” Grijalva said. “Look at comprehensive reform in a federal level and quit using people in their communities – Alabama, Arizona and others – as a whipping boy for a political advantage.”
Reps. Joe Baca (D-Calif.), Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), Al Green (D-Texas), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) will join Gutierrez, Grijalva, Gonzalez and Sewell in Alabama on Monday where they will hold a field hearing and attend the launch of a campaign to repeal the Arizona immigration law.
Originally for Talk Radio News Service.