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Alabama Rides Again

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Alabama Rides Again

Should the actions of a redneck Alabama governor be of any concern to Queens residents? The answer is yes. They were 50 years ago and they are today.

In 1962, Gov. George Wallace declared, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” and fought the efforts of the federal government to integrate the state’s schools.

In response, young men and women from the Northeast, including students from Queens College and the borough at large, boarded buses to join the fight against segregation.

Fast forward to 2011. Alabama’s current governor, Robert Bentley, has signed a state immigration law that authorizes local police to question and detain suspected illegal immigrants and hold them without bond. The law also requires the state’s public schools to check the immigration status of any student believed to be in this country illegally.

In so doing, Alabama has usurped an authority that has traditionally belonged completely to the federal government. It is the job of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce the nation’s immigration laws.

No doubt many Americans are excited by Bentley’s actions. They believe illegal immigrants are responsible for the record unemployment and other economic problems facing the United States. They are wrong.

If the courts do not succeed in overturning this legislation, right-wing activists will attempt to duplicate it in every state.

That must not happen. Local police cannot be called upon to interpret and enforce immigration laws. Teachers and administrators must make it clear they will never check the immigration status of their students.

No one knows how many illegal immigrants live in Queens, and we do not know how many of their children attend public schools. Every child belongs in school regardless of their parents’ immigration status.

We also believe “illegals” make a positive contribution to the local economy. They do jobs people who can work “on the books” do not want to do.

The nation should be repulsed by what is happening in Alabama. We do not believe, as Bentley asserts, that this law is not about “racial profiling.” Our hope is that the U.S. Supreme Court and an outraged public will stop this virus before it spreads.

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