Opponents of Alabama's immigration law hold signs during a rally at the Capitol in Montgomery on Saturday. / LLOYD GALLMAN/ADVERTISER
Opponents of Alabama's immigration law marched with immigrant and civil rights leaders Saturday from the state Capitol steps to the governor's mansion to send a message of dissatisfaction with what some were calling a "mean and ugly law."
Representatives from more than 20 states gathered in Montgomery to call for the reversal of the law known as HB 56. Saturday's march ended a two-day Immigrant National Convention, which included members from groups such as the NAACP, National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the Service Employee International Union (SEIU).
Officials with the Fair Immigration Reform Movement in charge of organizing the event estimated a crowd of more than 2,500. Signs that read "One Family, One Alabama" were spread out among the rally participants.
Janet Murguia, president and CEO of NCLR, said she made the trip from Washington, D.C., to join in the call for unity and social justice. She praised the black and Latino communities for coming together for the cause, adding that history brought the protesters to Montgomery on Saturday.
"This has been the site for the fight against racism and this is another chapter in that continuum," Murguia said.
Included in the state's immigration law, which was signed by Gov. Robert Bentley in June, are bans to state and local agencies from doing business with undocumented immigrants, a requirement for schools to collect information on the legal status of students, and the ability for law enforcement officials during the course of duty to detain people if they have a "reasonable suspicion" they are in the country illegally. Several provisions of the law have been blocked by federal courts.
The U.S. Supreme Court currently is reviewing challenges to Arizona's immigration statute, a law that was used as a model for similar state immigration laws, including Alabama's.
Bentley recently stated he is working with legislative leaders to propose revisions to the law during the upcoming legislative session. He said the changes will go toward making sure the state has an effective law, but also one that is fair and can be enforced without prejudice.