The Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, AKA "Arizona with a Twist," was recently signed by Gov. Robert Bentley. Its reach is extensive. For example,
A business is now required under state law to verify employment eligibility through a federal database; for employers with fewer than 25 employees, the state will "establish and maintain" a program for verification. Quarterly, the state will publish a list of employers enrolled in the program.
The act creates many other obligations for employers, landlords and public schools. This act also allows the state to "create" (spend tax dollars on) an agency to oversee this program.
Anyway, people didn't take the passage and signing of Beason-Hammon lightly. They gathered in the streets of Birmingham and silently marched.
"I give out juice and cookies as a ministry," said Linda Hill, who is a chaplain for the ministry Grace By Day at Grace Episcopal Church in Woodlawn. "Am I supposed to ask for their identification before I can give them cookies? This law is hurtful and it's mean."
Instead of speeches, protesters heard prayers from Christian, Jewish and Islamic leaders, who called for social justice and compassion, and reminded leaders of the core political values of life and liberty for all.
"...[T]here are a lot of people in solidarity on this issue," Bowling said. "To me, this is a most unique gathering, truly a combined interfaith effort."
Back in mid-month, when the legislation was signed, Diocese of Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley issued a brief statement.
Jesus said that loving our neighbors as ourselves is at the heart of how God means us to live. I and the Episcopal Church believe that the Hispanic population among us are our neighbors.
The recently adopted bill HB 56 will make it impossible to love and be hospitable to our neighbors as we ought to be. It is a profoundly disappointing decision and a sad moment for our state.
While we work for some functional immigration laws in our nation, let us respect the dignity of every human being, and live the vision of this nation as a place of hospitality for all.
Alabama's bishops and its Hispanic Missioner had previously denounced the legislation in April.