Last week we covered the ruling upholding the majority of Alabama’s extreme new immigration law, HB56. After news of the judge’s decision spread, there were reports of widespread fear in Alabama’s Latino and immigrant communities. The most egregious parts of the law require schools to check students for proof of citizenship and make it a criminal offense for undocumented people to acquire basic necessities like housing and utilities. In Montgomery County alone, over 200 students were absent the morning after the judge’s ruling.
To make matters worse, local farmers began saying that “Alabama just shut off their local food supply.” The Associated Press is reporting that only handfuls of farmworkers showed up for work in the days following the ruling. For more on that, see the video below the jump.
In the face of such awful news, Ted Hesson of Long Island Wins started a petition calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to appeal the judge’s ruling in Alabama. After Hesson’s petition attracted more than 500 supporters in no time, we got word that the DOJ filed an appeal to the ruling late on Friday. Victory! While the petition was likely only one factor that played into the Justice Department decision, this is clearly a step in the right direction. Thanks to everyone who signed and shared the campaign; the appeal is the best hope that Alabama has to defeat the worst parts of this law.
This decision is also further proof that the administration will be escalating their challenges against unconstitutional state immigration laws. While this is an important step towards victory, the appeal will only temporarily hold the decision while an appeals Atlanta court hears the case.
We hope that, at least for the time being, children will not have to stay home from school out of fear of their state and crops won’t rot in the fields. Will it work? Much remains to be seen.
Watch Alabama farmers react to the new law: