Ten undocumented immigrants who were arrested last November for taking part in a civil disobedience action in Alabama to protest the state’s anti-immigrant state law, HB 56, were sentenced yesterday. They pleaded guilty to third-degree disorderly conduct charges, and received suspended five-day jail sentences were fined $50 each and $217 in court costs.
For undocumented immigrant youth activists, engaging in civil disobedience to demand the DREAM Act or to raise awareness about anti-immigrant laws—and then getting arrested for it—is something of a rite of passage. DREAMers get arrested all the time. Their parents, however, are less likely to take part in such bold actions. That is, until Alabama’s HB 56 came along.
The restrictive anti-immigrant law was modeled on Arizona’s SB 1070; HB 56 allowed police officers to stop and question anyone they believed might be undocumented. But Alabama went several steps further, by demanding that schools track the immigration statuses of their students and criminalizing nearly every aspect of daily life for immigrants.