We Belong Together Women’s Human Rights Delegation Calls for the Repeal of Alabama's HB 56

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We Belong Together Women’s Human Rights Delegation calls for the repeal of HB 56 and support for immigrant women.

“We Belong Together is a call to women leaders from around the country to join in the fight for human rights for immigrants,” said Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

Last week, women’s rights, immigrant rights, and human rights organizations visited Birmingham, Ala. as part of the We Belong Together Women’s Human Rights Delegation. More than 17 delegates from 18 organizations joined together to document and protest the human rights violations that women and children in Alabama are experiencing under the state’s anti-immigrant law, HB 56, and to hear personal stories from women and teens affected by the law. The delegates left with a promise to continue to fight back against anti-immigrant legislation and to carry the brave women’s stories back to their communities.

When the law originally passed in June 2011, its many provisions included making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to not carry proof of their immigration status, allowing local police to detain anyone suspected of being undocumented. The law also makes it a crime for the state to enter into a contract with anyone who is undocumented, and requires educators to document the status of newly enrolled students. Though a number of the most repressive sections of the law have now been blocked in court, immigrant women and their families continue to find themselves in a hostile environment of state-sanctioned harassment and mistreatment.

“We Belong Together is a call to women leaders from around the country to join in the fight for human rights for immigrants,” said Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, “and a response to the brave immigrant women in states like Alabama, Arizona, and Georgia, who are speaking out against oppressive enforcement policies that brutalize their families and communities.”

Women and youth shared painful specifics of how immigrant women are affected by these kinds of policies, sharing accounts of corrupt police who racially profile and harass immigrant communities, of domestic violence survivors afraid to call the police, of youth being left with guardians in order to continue their education and follow their dreams as their families are forced to leave the state, and of mothers worrying that their children will no longer be able to obtain life-saving health care. Their heart-wrenching stories showed how these women have become powerful leaders in their communities.

Trini, a mother in Tuscaloosa, supports her four children as a domestic worker. She told the story of her family’s displacement by the recent tornadoes. After pulling together enough money for a mobile home, Trini realized the new law prevented her from renewing her home’s registration. Fearing that she’ll be forced to leave, Trini has given a friend power of attorney simply to ensure that her children can be cared for in the event of her deportation.

Inspired by stories like Trini’s, the delegation issued a statement (full text here) and a promise to join with the brave women in Alabama and around the country to fight for the rights of all people to live, work, and love with dignity, humanity, and justice.

“The sacrifices that these women have made for the well-being of their families, to earn a living to support those families, to obtain life-saving health care for their children, are the same sacrifices that generations of women have made in coming to this country to provide for the ones that they love,” the statement reads.

For the full text of the We Belong Together delegates’ statement, summaries of immigrant women’s stories, and more information, go to http://www.WeBelongTogether.org.

We Belong Together is a national campaign co-led by the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance (NDWA) and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), that calls for justice and dignity for immigrants by focusing on the impact of immigrant enforcement policies on women, their children, and their families. The We Belong Together campaign has hosted Women’s Human Rights Delegations to states that have passed the most repressive anti-immigrant laws, including Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama so that women leaders of national and regional organizations can learn of the impact of these policies on immigrant women and their families.

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Erin White
Camino Public Relations
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