in Alabama

Alabama’s Immigration Law Full of Features, Not Bugs

At the New York Times, Yunte Huang writes about something that is now illegal: picking up a stranger on the way to church in Alabama.

That stranger could have been me, 20 years ago, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Fresh out of college in Beijing, I had left my home country in the wake of the Tiananmen massacre. Landing in the sleepy college town, I was disappointed that Times Square was nowhere to be seen. I started going to churches, and without a car, I had to rely on good Samaritans for rides on Sunday. A newbie not yet brazen enough, I always carried a Bible, which seemed to work better than a hitchhiker’s thumb. When kindhearted folks — men in immaculate suits and women in puffy, flowery dresses — stopped for me and asked what church I was going to, I would invariably say, “Yours.”

I happened to be in the Alabama State Senate gallery when Democrats succeeded in amending SB 256 to exempt churches from prosecution for transporting undocumented immigrants to and from worship services. State Senator Scott Beason (who wants to “empty the clip” on illegal immigration and referred to black residents of Greene County as “aborigines“) argued against the amendment by citing the risk of terrorism(!). State House Democrats lacked the numbers to force their amendment, and the House version of the bill — the infamous HB 56 — was passed by the Senate. Republicans, who represent perhaps the hottest hotbed of Christian identity politics in America, wanted Alabamians afraid to pick up Yunte Huang.

State Senator Paul Sanford (R-Madison) was quite right to say SB 256 heralded “the age of big government Republicans in Alabama.” House Majority Leader Mickey Hammon bragged that his bill “attacked every aspect of an illegal alien’s life,” and in fact HB 56 reaches into the very business of the afterlife. Every time a Yunte Huang is passed up by a family that might otherwise take him to church, that is a feature of this wretched law — not a bug. It is the worst kind of Big, Bad Government.

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