The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 75/No. 25      July 11, 2011

Alabama protest stands up to
attack on immigrants’ rights
(front page)
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama—Some 3,000 people marched and rallied here June 25 against a new antiworker law that allows local cops to arrest and detain foreign-born workers they believe are undocumented. The Alabama law is the most sweeping of similar laws passed by several state legislatures.

“We just want to work. We don’t break the law,” Roberto Hernandez, a construction worker from Mexico, told the Militant. Hernandez was among a group of construction workers who had come to the rally. “I have papers, but the cops are always stopping us. We have to stand up against this law.”

“This law breaks up families,” stated 16-year-old Gloria Morales. “I was born in this country. My brother came with our parents.”

“I wasn’t really aware of the effect of this law until my Latino classmates started talking about it,” added Brenda Morris, also 16, who joined Morales at the rally. “They’re trying to take my best friend away.”

“They say they won’t be profiling,” said Earnest Edmonds, an African American who is a retired forest agency worker. “The law itself is profiling because it singles out a group of people. It’s just plain racism.”

The march and rally were organized by a coalition of churches and social service organizations. Most participants were Latino immigrants, but included a substantial number of Caucasians and African Americans.

In addition to using local cops to check immigration status, the law requires schools to investigate the status of students and makes it illegal to knowingly provide a ride to undocumented workers seeking employment, rent to them, or provide a range of other services.  
Obama’s E-Verify crackdown
The new legislation also requires all businesses in Alabama to use the federal government’s E-Verify program to check the legal status of workers. Georgia’s law exempts companies with 10 or fewer employees from that requirement.

President Barack Obama’s administration has stepped up use of this program and other measures making it more difficult for undocumented workers to get work.

During debate on the bill in the Alabama legislature, Rep. Micky Hammon, its sponsor, boasted that it “attacks every aspect of an illegal alien’s life… . This bill is designed to make it difficult for them to live here so they will deport themselves.”

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Alabama’s Latino population more than doubled over the last decade, spurred by the capitalists’ hunt for cheap labor. Now, when unemployment is high and the bosses have a larger available pool of low-wage labor, the capitalist rulers are targeting the solidarity of the working class by making it harder for undocumented workers to work and live. The center estimates that there are some 120,000 undocumented immigrants in the state. Alabama’s law takes effect September 1. Several groups have said they will challenge it in court.  
Georgia governor: ‘Use convicts’
A federal judge suspended two provisions of a similar law in Georgia June 27. One is a section that would punish people who—while committing another offense—transport or harbor undocumented immigrants or encourage them to come here. The other authorized police to check the immigration status of “suspects” who are not carrying IDs.

Several other parts of the law will go into effect July 1, including one that makes it a felony with hefty fines to use false information or documentation when applying for a job.

Georgia attorney general Sam Olens said he was pleased that parts of the law will proceed and that his office plans to appeal the court’s ruling.

The assault on immigrants in Georgia has contributed to a labor shortage in the fields, where bosses have relied on undocumented workers to maintain a superexploitable workforce. Gov. Nathan Deal proudly asserts that the state’s anti-immigrant law has created 11,000 job openings in agriculture.

The governor came up with what Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black called a “brainstorming idea”—to replace immigrants with people on probation, another section of the working class whose pariah status under capitalism brands them as more exploitable.  
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