A New Civil Rights Movement

Source: New York Times.com

Alabama’s ruling class has dug in against the storm it caused with the nation’s most oppressive immigration law. It vows no surrender. Some of the law’s provisions have been blocked in federal court; others won’t take effect until next year. But many Alabamans aren’t waiting for things to get worse or for the uncertain possibility of judicial relief or legislative retreat. They are moving now to protect themselves, forming alliances and learning their rights.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network sponsored a three-day workshop for Latino immigrants on Nov. 4.

On the last day of the event, nearly 60 people from Alabama and the surrounding Southern states met in Albertville, Ala., where they learned how to network and how to protect their rights, and shared their fears.

Credit: Rob Culpepper for The New York Times
Credit: Rob Culpepper for The New York Times

Evelyn S. of Russellville, Ala.

“This law has empowered people to be openly racist.”

“The workshop has empowered us to stand up for changes, for our children, families and friends. It has given us the tools to organize and fight back.”

Santos A. of New Orleans, La.

“We come here to share our experiences and learn how to organize and raise our voices in a peaceful way.”

Ricardo L. of Atlanta

“A lot of people have left the state, some have gone back to Mexico. People that used to be your neighbor — they’re not there anymore.”

“We came to this workshop to provide help to the people of Alabama. We know we are getting organized to create a barrier to stop all these laws against immigrants.”

Maria Trinidad G. of Tuscaloosa, Ala.

“[The law] affects every aspect of our lives: housing, work, transportation, children, health. …”

“There’s anxiety, not being able to sleep, depression. Even with our children we see the psychological damage. It affects everyone — we all live in fear.”

Yuri R. of Albertville, Ala.

“Every time someone knocks on our door we are afraid it’s immigration.”

“This workshop has inspired me to widen my frame of thought.”

Jose Luis Escoto M. Jr. of Nashville

“I feel like discrimination is discrimination, no matter what form it takes.”

“Even in the darkest hour people are willing to face reality and change it for the better.”

Mayra R. of Oneonta, Ala.

“How do you pack up 16 years of your life and expect to start new somewhere else?”

“We’re scared of the police when we should trust them.”

“We see a lot of racism in Alabama. Now that they passed this law we live in terror.”

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