Alabama Immigrants Organize to Fight HB 56

| Mon Nov. 7, 2011 6:25 PM EST

Undocumented immigrants in Alabama are fighting back against the state's harsh immigration law—by getting organized.

Last weekend, pro-immigrant activists from the South and beyond headed to the poultry-processing hub of Albertville, located some 75 miles northeast of Birmingham, for a workshop meant to help Alabama's immigrant communities deal with HB 56, the restrictive law that has drawn comparisons to (and in some ways surpassed) Arizona's SB 1070. Albertville, home to many undocumented Latino immigrants who work at local Tyson, Pilgrim's Pride, and Wayne Farms plants, has become a hotspot for immigrant organizing.

The workshop, sponsored by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the Southeast Immigrants Rights Network (SEIRN), was based on the Barrio Defense Committee model first introduced in Arizona last year. The idea is simple: train communities to communicate better, know their rights, and have a plan in place should an immigration raid occur. According to NDLON's Marisa Franco, the trainings are all about "lifting up these people's courage." "These laws unleash the ugliest part of this country," she said. "It really opens the door for people to treat each other in a really horrible way. We want to create a space for people to find each other and know 1) we're not alone and 2) we actually have some ways to defend ourselves."

Get Mother Jones by Email - Free. Like what you're reading? Get the best of MoJo three times a week.