Protestors turned out for a hearing on Alabama's immigration law Friday.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a public hearing in Birmingham concerning crackdowns on illegal immigration in Alabama and other states. The commission last came to Alabama in 1958.
"The issue in 1958 involved voting rights and the violation of the African American community. This that is being heard today is the violation of the immigrant community," Mary Castro, chairwoman of the commission, said.
The panel wanted to learn the impact of Alabama's law, particularly if there have been any civil rights abuses. While there was disagreement over the impact of the law there was a lot of strong emotions expressed at the hearing.
Gardendale's state Senator Scott Beason testified in support of Alabama's immigration law.
"The real victims of the immigration debate are American citizens. These are the people who have been deprived of their jobs. Those are the people who pay the taxes that pay for the benefits that go to people who are not supposed to be in this country," Beason said.
During the meeting, a handful of people staged a protest. They objected to not being allowed to speak and some claimed they were undocumented immigrants. Birmingham Police escorted them out.
At one point a bus, nicknamed the Undocu Bus arrived with more people claiming to be undocumented. They were barred from entering the hearing because they were "too loud."
Those opposed to Alabama's immigration law said it was all part of making a strong point to the commission.
"HB 56 has been seriously and adversely affected people in Alabama not just undocumented immigrants. It's hurt our economy and it has hurt our image," said Helen Rivas with the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice.
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