National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


Crisis in Alabama Intensifies: Children Caught in the Crossfire

October 06, 2011


Press conference recording available at:

Washington, D.C. —Less than a week since H.B. 56, the nation’s harshest immigration law, went into effect the crisis facing immigrant and Latino children is reaching alarming proportions. The federal court’s denial of emergency requests to block harmful provisions of H.B. 56 will make a terrible situation even worse for Alabama’s children and families.


On October 6, Alabama educators, legal service providers joined national faith and child advocacy leaders to share the real stories of children and families impacted by the Alabama immigration law. The following quotes can be attributed to speakers as listed below:


Mary Bauer, Legal Director, Southern Poverty Law Center:

“A crisis is unfolding here in Alabama, and children, more than anyone else, are caught in the crossfire.  Since the ruling last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center, and other civil rights groups established a hotline for immigrants and citizens to report what is happening on the ground.  We have already received close to 2000 calls in less than one week.  Many of the calls are deeply disturbing and paint a grim picture of the aftermath of this ill-conceived law: people overwhelmed with fear; husbands who cannot take their wives to the hospital to give birth; sick people who refuse to go to the hospital to receive emergency care; thousands of terrorized children who are out of school; children who do go to school are subject to discriminatory treatment and harassment.


We know of many localities that don’t allow immigrant families to have access to water services, denying them drinking water and plumbing facilities.  Life as we know it has ended in Alabama –for both immigrants and US citizens alike.”


Pamela Long, Associate Professor at Auburn University Montgomery, Alabama, plaintiff in Alabama lawsuit:

“I’m witnessing a lot of fear among immigrant families including families that own small businesses and employ taxpaying workers. They have revitalized the state with their hard work and entrepreneurship but now face the heart-wrenching decision of leaving their livelihoods behind to avoid being separated from their loved ones. As an educator, my duty is to educate students not check their immigration status.”


Father Jack Kane, Director of Hispanic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Mobile and Pastor, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Opelika, Alabama

“Everybody is suffering and the children are suffering the most. It is a dark day for Alabama and for America when politicians praise a law that dehumanizes people and pushes children out of school. This unjust law not only affects unauthorized immigrants, U.S. citizen children are also bearing the brunt. ”


Wendy Cervantes, Vice President of Child Rights Policy, First Focus:

“It’s an outrage that policymakers in Alabama have decided to target the youngest members of society in the name of immigration enforcement.  As a nation we must not allow laws like H.B. 56 to deny children their most fundamental rights and rob them of their future.”


The Most Reverend Jaime Soto. Bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento:

“As Catholic Bishops, we continue to call for a national solution on immigration that is fair and humane. We are concerned that the lack of national action on immigration reform has led to states trying to implement measures that in many cases are ill-conceived and will be ill-applied. Immigration reform is not just for immigrants; it’s for American society. We become a better community, a more prosperous community and a safer community through immigration reform.”


Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum:

“Today, Alabama is making the wrong kind of history. Nobody wins when a state law tramples on the civil rights of immigrants and citizens alike. The impact on children and families is nothing short of terrifying, and we should not play politics with children’s lives. It runs against every value we hold as Americans.”




Crossroads Campaign Solutions