MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- With the holiday upon us, more than 2,500 Alabamians, activists and leaders from across the nation came out to Montgomery, Ala. streets to rally and march to repeal anti-immigration law HB 56 as their holiday wish to call for an end to racial profiling, separation of families and to build a better Alabama.

Waving signs that read One Family: One Alabama, NO to HB 56, HB 56 Hursts All Alabamians, among other messages, an energetic and hopeful crowd joined activists from the Alabama Coalition from Immigrant Justice (ACIJ), who has been in the front lines of the fight, community members affected by the law, and civil rights leaders Benjamin Todd Jealous, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), President; Janet Murguia National Council of La Raza (NCLR), President and CEO; Mary Kay Henry, Service Employee International Union (SEIU), International President; Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer, Service Employee International Union (SEIU) as well as William Lucy, President of Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and Billy Beasley (D-Clayton).

“HB56 is an egregious and coercive attempt by Alabama to take federal immigration law into its own hands,” stated NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “The law makes America and Alabama less smart and less safe. Children are now afraid to go to school, lest their immigrant parents get deported. Local community members are now afraid to report criminals to police, lest the police decide to ID and deport the informants themselves. People from all backgrounds must stand together against laws like this to prevent our country from reverting to a time when discrimination was the law of the land.”

Following the rally at Capitol Steps where a diverse group of community leaders calling for unity spoke, scores of children led a march to the Governor’s mansion. Chanting Si Se Puede among other cheerful and hopeful songs, the children held letters with their holiday wish to repeal HB 56 at a Christmas tree delivered by organizers across the Governor’s mansion. The letters were collected by radio station La Jefa, which started a letter campaign that will continue until February. Children and families from across the state have written letters addressed to the Governor asking him to reverse the
immigration law that is breaking their families and infusing fear.

“As Americans, we believe that we are all equal. And it is this belief that calls us to raise our voices against HB56, a law that legalizes discrimination and ethnic profiling,” said SEIU Secretary- Treasurer Eliseo Medina. “Instead of marching backwards in time, Alabama should be looking towards the future; a future where everyone’s contributions are recognized and respected; a future that is welcoming and inclusive.”

These activities are part of the Immigrant National Convention organized by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a project of the Center for Community Change, and hosted by the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ), a network of individuals and organizations which seek to provide a united voice dedicated to ensuring the social, legal and civic rights of all immigrants in Alabama. ACIJ’s members work to promote justice for all of Alabama’s immigrants. Over 150 activists from more than 25 states including California, New York, Illinois, traveled to Montgomery to join the local fight. They participated in a two-day summit of intensive electoral, movement building and new media training and discussions, and join in dialogue with Freedom Riders and immigrant rights activists about today’s struggles. They are working together fight to reverse HB 56, organize to block similar state bills around the country, and advance the cause of justice for all.