December 15, 2011.
Rise and shine. Lesley and I woke up at 5:30 AM. Eww.. Super early, but needless to say, we were running 30 minutes late this morning.
We began our road trip with a briefing over everything that is going to be offered at the FIRM Conference in Alabama. Voter registration, Naturalization, Organizing etc.. I’m going to be honest and say that the session I’m most excited about is the Freedom Riders and DREAMers portion. I dunno, I guess it’s all this DREAMer blood running through me. Yes, we are doing a lot of talking regarding the FIRM Conference, where we will be representing our wonderful state of Arkansas and Arkansas United Community Coalition (AUCC).
Mireya treated us to breakfast, where she told Lesley to “watch” her coffee. I have a visual for you, I’ll post pictures later. Mireya is supposed to be finishing up her “essay” , but she has so much to say, she hasn’t..
I love this city. So many awesome memories. First, because this is where I met my UWD family. And second, Rumba Room. My stomach is turning as we are getting closer to our destination. And the worst part is that we aren’t even a quarter of the distance there. Walter’s now driving. Boy do I feel safe. HA! Mireya is awfully quiet..oh that’s right, she finishing her “essay”. Lesley is almost out, but never let’s go of that darn iPhone.
Anyway, I have been reading up on the famed HB 56 and ran into this interesting Voto Latino Article on The Huffington Post from November 4, 2011. Let me know what you think.
“It’s been 36 days since most of Alabama’s extreme anti-immigration bill, HB 56, was upheld in court. While some of the worst aspects of it have been temporarily blocked (i.e. requiring that schools check the immigration status of students), thousands of immigrants have fled their jobs, their schools and their houses in a exodus not seen in recent times. The almost 200,000 Latinos who remain in Alabama have been left in a state of fear and insecurity.
As the law stands, police are allowed to racially profile anyone they suspect of being illegal, all contracts with undocumented immigrants are invalid (i.e. child support, leases, or jobs), and it’s now a crime for undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver’s license or even a job. Immigration and human rights experts say this law is the most stringent and extreme in the developed world.
The result is that crops are rotting in the fields, buildings are not being rebuilt after the devastating tornadoes earlier this year and many small businesses are suffering huge losses in customers and workers. People are afraid to leave their house let alone make contact with police or social services. Domestic violence help centers say many immigrants have stopped reporting their abusers to police for fear of being detained
Through it all, Alabama’s governor has responded to complaints by employers and displaced workers by saying “Those stories are anecdotal stories… It’ll work itself out.”
Well, Voto Latino has compiled ten statistics that go beyond anecdotes to show just how detrimental the bill really is – to Alabama, its immigrant families and human rights.
80% – The percent increase in Latino children absent to school on Monday, October 31 compared to last year’s average.
25% – The percent of construction workers in Alabama thought to have left the state since HB 56 went into effect, seven months after tornadoes devastated many Alabama towns.
$5.5 Billion – The size of Alabama’s agricultural industry.
11,080 – The number of farm jobs that went unfilled in Georgia after it passed a law similar to Alabama’s HB 56.
5 – The minimum number of people who have been placed in deportation proceedings since Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the agency is not working with Alabama to enforce HB 56.
$130 Million – the amount in taxes undocumented immigrants paid in Alabama in 2010.
3,000+ – The number of calls an Alabama civil rights group has received over to their emergency hotline since HB56 was enacted.
10% – The success rate of busing unemployed workers to farm fields to replace workers who left.
$140 Million – The amount that Georgia agriculture lost in their spring and summer harvest due to their anti-immigration law (similar to Alabama’s HB 56).
860% – The amount by which undocumented immigrants were more productive in the tomato fields than their replacements.
Much is still not known about the precise effect this controversial law is having in Alabama because it is too early and statistics are not being kept. On Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department tried to remedy that by demanding that Alabama schools compile data regarding attendance and withdrawals. The Alabama attorney general has written back questioning the Feds authority to ask for such data.