HEADLINES: Immigration

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Six people protesting Alabama’s controversial immigration law were led away and detained Thursday morning after a sit-down protest near the Alabama Senate chamber. The protesters prayed and sang “Amazing Grace” and “This Light of Mine,” and called for the repeal of the controversial law before being led to a separate room in the Alabama State House. Two senators knelt and prayed with the protesters, but were not detained. The six were released later in the day. Rev. Angela Wright, pastor of Beloved Community United Church of Christ in Birmingham, identified the protesters as the Rev. Fred Hammond of Tuscaloosa; Clemencia Robledo of Tuscaloosa; Hope Hamilton Schumacher of Birmingham; John Estes of Birmingham; Salvadore Cervantes of Montgomery and Drew Statham of Birmingham. Wright said they were members of Alabama’s Conscience, a group seeking repeal of the law, known as HB 56. [Chicago Tribune]

A top U.S. Justice Department official warned Alabama’s education department that the state’s controversial immigration law has had “lasting” and possibly illegal consequences for Hispanic school children, according to a letter released Thursday. The legislation, known as HB 56, has several provisions, including one requiring police who make lawful traffic stops or arrests to try to determine the immigration status of anyone they suspect might be undocumented. A federal appeals court has blocked some components, however, including one requiring Alabama officials to check the immigration status of children in public schools. However, data provided by Alabama officials shows that “Hispanic students’ absence rates tripled while absence rates for other groups of students remained virtually flat.” That includes a sharp drop in those getting schooling through English as a second language programs, meaning they did not “receive the educational services to which they are legally entitled.” [CNN]

A trip to buy paper plates for her 3-year-old daughter’s birthday party turned into a nightmare for the wife of one American soldier. Araceli Mercado Sanchez, 22, was thrown into immigration jail in Eloy, Ariz., after being stopped for a minor traffic violation and threatened with deportation, her lawyer, Richard Green, told the Daily News. The story was first reported by MSNBC and has happened while the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments over an Arizona immigration law that would allow police to request proof of legal residency from people they believe are undocumented. The young mother admits she has been in the country undocumented since she was a child, but according to her attorney, she should have never been arrested in the first place because she had a military spouse ID card. In Arizona police manuals, Green said, police are instructed to take military spouse cards as proof of legal residency. Her husband, Pfc. Guillermo Garcia, is stationed in Germany awaiting deployment and found himself helpless during the terrifying situation. “He was freaking out,” Green told the News. Green claims the immigration officials’ actions violated a 2010 policy put in place by the Obama administration called “parole in place” which allows immediate family members of military personnel to complete the process of becoming legal residents without having to leave the country. He said he had filed papers for Sanchez to receive the “parole” and begin the process to become a legal resident in March but hadn’t heard anything back until his client’s arrest. [NY Daily News]


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