EJS Signs Amicus Brief Opposing Alabama’s HB 56

The Equal Justice Society signed on to an amicus brief by the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP opposing Alabama’s HB 56 law, the Beason-Hammon “Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act.” The country’s most draconian anti-immigrant law, HN 56 will result in discrimination against lawful permanent residents and citizens of color.

The brief was filed Monday (PDF) in the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which is considering the constitutionality of the law after a federal judge upheld key provisions of the law in September. “HB 56 is nothing less than a modern-day incarnation of some the most abhorrent types of institutionalized discrimination to have emerged in the history of the United States,” read the brief.

The brief argues that HB 56 encourages or even forces Alabama law enforcement, schools, public offices, and ordinary citizens to discriminate based on race, ethnicity and national origin. In the context of Alabama’s “long and disturbing history of civil rights violations,” the brief compares HB 56 to Alabama’s Jim Crow laws that “required law enforcement officials to enforce discriminatory laws, and criminalizing the exercise of fundamental human liberties.”

The law excludes children of color, particularly Latino children and children of other immigrant communities, from public schools, mandates racial profiling, and permits the detention of U.S. citizens and lawfully present immigrants if they fail to establish their immigration status to the satisfaction of local law enforcement.

HB 56 threatens public safety by eroding relationships between law enforcement and immigrant communities, resulting in underreporting of crime, especially hate crimes. It also threatens the personal liberty and property for anyone that may appear or sound foreign.

The legislation represents a form of legalized racism that threatens the Latino community in Alabama most directly, but also impacts all people of color, including Middle Eastern and Asian Americans.

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