Nov 29, 2011 | By Mary Ellen Lacy, D.C.
On November 21, ten members of Congress travelled to Alabama to hear testimony relating to the practical consequences of H.B. 56. The congressional members, led by Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and supported by Alabama’s Representative Terri Sewell, gathered at Birmingham City Hall.
Thanks to NETWORK’s own activist member John Meehan, resident of Birmingham, Alabama, we have on-the-scene reporting. (Photo above shows John at the congressional hearing.)
According to John, testimonies were emotional and highlighted the harsh consequences of H.B. 56. Witnesses spoke of families being split apart and delays in access to governmental programs due to the proof of citizenship requirement. Witnesses included Mayor William Bell of Birmingham as well as the daughter of an undocumented couple. The young woman spoke eloquently of the fears and social infirmities caused by H.B. 56. John further reported that the congressional leaders listened intently and promised to carry their concerns to congressional floor.
Recently, a group of 39 Democratic lawmakers filed a brief in federal court asking the court to overturn Alabama’s law, the most restrictive in the country. The Democrats argue that the law infringes on the federal government’s authority in immigration matters and violates the rights of both citizens and noncitizens.