Faith groups file lawsuit over Alabama’s new anti-immigrant law

I was listening to NPR a few nights ago while cooking dinner and was excited to hear about a group of Christian and Catholic clergy in Alabama taking action against a new anti-immigrant law in their state.

A few months ago, Alabama followed in Arizona’s footsteps in passing a bill that many are calling the most sweeping anti-immigrant law in the country, going even farther than Arizona’s highly controversial SB 1070.

Alabama’s new bill, H.B. 56, includes similar provisions to Arizona’s SB 1070, including one that authorizes local police to ask anyone they stop about their immigration status based on “reasonable suspicion,” amounting to the legalization of racial profiling.

[H.B. 56] bars illegal immigrants from enrolling in any public college after high school. It obliges public schools to determine the immigration status of all students, requiring parents of foreign-born students to report the immigration status of their children.

The bill…also makes it a crime to knowingly rent housing to an illegal immigrant. It bars businesses from taking tax deductions on wages paid to unauthorized immigrants. (link)

The law also makes it illegal to enter into a contract with, harbor, or transport undocumented immigrants.

Alabama’s Methodist, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic Churches have sued the state of Alabama over this law, saying it violates their religious freedom.  Melissa Patrick of the United Methodist Church of Alabama states, “This new legislation goes against the tenets of our Christian faith — to welcome the stranger, to offer hospitality to anyone.”

The churches’ lawsuit itself states, “If enforced, the law will place Alabama church members in the untenable position of verifying individuals’ immigration documentation before being able to follow God’s word to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.'”

Here at The Langar Hall we regularly write about immigrant rights, as this is not only an issue that affects our Punjabi Sikh immigrant communities here in North America, but also one of the most significant human rights issues facing our generation.  I was inspired to hear about these Alabama Church leaders taking this courageous step in support of immigrant rights, rooted deeply in their Christian faith.

Indeed, as Reverend Robert Lancaster from the Elkmont United Methodist Church in Alabama states, “You cannot tell a church that if there’s a man hungry out there, a family hungry out there, that they can’t feed them just because they don’t have a green card. That’s not Christian.”

It’s not Sikh either.  I hope this struggle in Alabama inspires other people of faith and religious institutions— Christian, Sikh and otherwise— to take proactive steps to push forward immigrant rights and justice, rooted in our faith and our knowledge of the Divine in every human being.

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4 Responses to “Faith groups file lawsuit over Alabama’s new anti-immigrant law”

  1. guest says:

    christians acting according to christian principles sounds like a promising thing to me. sikhs acting according to sikh principles sounds promising as well.

    maybe this will help shift the discourse in this country away from legal/illegal and more towards right/wrong.

  2. Suki says:

    What wrong with the term illegal immigrant. Every country has the right to its immigration law. Mexico treats it illegal immigrants 100 times worse then America yet it gets a free pass from people like you.

    So according to you Mr.Sunny Singh, anybody who comes to America no matter what there status should be allowed to stay.

  3. paper mama says:

    The laws are available all over the world. The imp migration for the people comes spy way of many changes in law process. The desire level of change sari seen by the people for accurate time passing. The law provides some form of protection through filing suit for the time passing.