Opponents of Alabama’s Immigration Laws Find New Ways to Appeal to Legislature

The Alabama Great Seal

Civil rights and labor groups opposed to Alabama’s immigration law, known as HB 658, want to send a message to the Alabama Legislature. Since the legislature has been largely unresponsive to protests up to this point, opponents are finding another way to appeal to them – this time through their pocketbooks.

Leaders of a new coalition opposing HB 658 plan to hold demonstrations in front of 73 Hyundai dealerships around Montgomery County warning tourists not to visit the state because of the measures the immigration law puts in place.

Several people are puzzled by this new direction taken by protestors of the law. Because of the number of immigrants who have jobs in the tourism industry, Alabama State tourism director Lee Sentell says these demonstrations, if effective, will only make immigrants worse off. The executive director for corporate communications for Hyundai, Chris Hosford, said in a statement that Hyundai has a longstanding commitment to human rights and he does not understand why the company would be singled out for the protest.

These new protests were likely prompted by the Alabama Legislature’s recent revisions to HB 658, one of which creates a page on the official state website dedicated to publishing the names of all undocumented immigrants who appear in court for violations. Additional measures put in place by HB 658 have dubbed it as one of the toughest in the nation. One provision requires individuals to carry proof of legal status at all times and allows police to detain people who can’t provide proof of legal status.

The anticipated Supreme Court decision over Arizona’s immigration law could effectively settle the highly charged debate between states and the federal government over immigration enforcement. Regardless of the outcome, advocates on both sides look forward to seeing the roles of federal and local authorities clarified, after which, they hope our country will begin taking steps toward a more protected border.

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Reinhard von Hennigs