Bishop Parsley: Alabama court ruling on immigration

The Rt. Rev. Henry Parsley, Bishop of Alabama, reflects on the latest court rulings on Alabama’s “mean-spirited” anti-immigration laws:

The ruling of the Federal District Court on the challenges to the Alabama anti-immigration law is a painfully mixed picture.

There is good news in the judge’s preliminary blocking of some aspects of the law. One of these is the section that the suit filed by me and the other bishops was most concerned about, section 13, which, in our judgment, could make it a criminal offence to offer Christian care and assistance to an undocumented person.

This section was blocked by a preliminary injunction under the suit filed by the Justice Department. The result is the same as our request, so we are relieved by this ruling and hope that the injunction will become permanent. It protects our churches’ ministries from prosecution under this over-reaching law, and substantially protects our religious liberties.

The other aspect of our suit, which addressed the making of contracts with persons who may be undocumented, was denied by the court on the grounds that we “lack standing.” This is a subtle point of law, and we are considering our response to this ruling. Our concern is that certain aspects of our ministry, such as marriages or contracts for a camp or youth program at Camp McDowell, for example, could be affected by the law as written.

Some other parts of the law were blocked by the ruling, but most of the law is now in effect. Unfortunately, in my view and that of many others, it remains a mean-spirited law and the nation’s most harsh anti-immigration statute. Alabama is simply better than this.

Read the rest here.

The New York Times reports that families are fleeing in the wake of the rulings:

The vanishing began Wednesday night, the most frightened families packing up their cars as soon as they heard the news.

The exodus of Hispanic immigrants began just hours after a federal judge in Birmingham upheld most provisions of the state’s far-reaching immigration enforcement law.

The judge, Sharon Lovelace Blackburn, upheld the parts of the law allowing state and local police to ask for immigration papers during routine traffic stops, rendering most contracts with illegal immigrants unenforceable and requiring schools to ascertain the immigration status of children at registration time.

What the new immigration law means on a large scale will become clearest in a place like Albertville, whether it will deliver jobs to citizens and protect taxpayers as promised or whether it will spell economic disaster as opponents fear.

Critics of the law, particularly farmers, contractors and home builders, say the measure has already been devastating, leaving rotting crops in fields and critical shortages of labor. They say that even fully documented Hispanic workers are leaving, an assessment that seems to be borne out in interviews here. The legal status of family members is often mixed — children are often American-born citizens — but the decision whether to stay rests on the weakest link.

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