Report Finds Growing Hostility Against Latinos in Alabama

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Latinos in Alabama have experienced harassment, hardship and discrimination, regardless of their immigration status, as a result of the state’s anti-immigrant law, HB 56, and the xenophobic climate it has created, according to a report released Monday by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The report – "Alabama’s Shame: HB 56 and the War on Immigrants" – features stories told by Latinos from across Alabama. They describe being cheated out of wages, being denied medical treatment and facing a growing hostility since the passage of HB 56. The report calls for the law’s repeal, citing evidence that it attacks the basic human dignity of all Latinos.

“The people in this report are the mothers, fathers and children living under a law that has given a nod and a wink to the worst prejudices harbored by some residents,” said SPLC Legal Director Mary Bauer, author of the report. “If lawmakers are unwilling to repeal HB 56 – knowing this is the type of misery they have created – we can only assume they intended to inflict this cruelty all along.”

The SPLC has challenged the law in federal court and will present oral arguments on March 1 before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

The report includes the following stories:

* A health clinic refused to treat a young girl due to her immigration status. Days later, she had to undergo emergency surgery.

* A family with young children lived in a home without running water for 40 days because their “papers” were not in order.

* After asking to be paid for her work, a day laborer had a gun pointed at her by a boss who declared he didn’t have to pay her because she didn’t have “papers.”

* Latinos who are U.S. citizens have reported enduring taunts of “Go back to Mexico” and being treated with suspicion. One citizen described having to provide “American” identification to complete a routine purchase at a store – simply because he is Latino.

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