House Democrats hold Alabama hearing on new immigration law

This is a week when most members of Congress make the rounds in their districts. But a trio of California lawmakers detoured to Alabama Monday to protest that state’s new immigration law.

Ten House Democrats from around the country traveled to Birmingham to campaign for the repeal of Alabama’s HB56, a recently-passed immigration law that allows police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect may be undocumented.

"It’s not just pure symbolism," Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz, told the Boston Herald. "It’s about bringing attention to a rising climate of fear."

Grijalva joined Representatives Joe Baca of San Bernadino, Zoe Lofgren of San Jose, and Grace Napolitano of Norwalk as they traveled to Arizona. Each of the representatives listened to students and government workers testify about the effects of the new law at an ad hoc hearing.

The law also forbids the state from providing death certificates or drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.

HB 56 was written by Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, who also authored Arizona's controversial SB 1070. is modeled after Arizona’s SB 1070.

Alabama’s law, like Arizona’s, has been challenged by the Justice Department. A provision that would have required public schools to report students’ immigration statuses has been put on hold, but courts have let stand the practice of local law enforcers questioning people’s immigration status.

Rep. Napolitano, D-Calif, released a statement on the law.

"Workers are leaving the state, agricultural crops are dying in the fields," said Rep. Napolitano, D-Calif. "[The] local economy is losing millions of dollars. This is a law that hurts all of Alabama, not just immigrants."

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