Rep. Micky Hammon stated before voting to move the revision bill HB 658 out of committee that “Churches need something written in crayon because they exaggerate.” Exaggerate?
It is not an exaggeration that children of documented immigrants are being bullied in school as a result of passage of HB 56. These are people whom, Rep. Hammon said would have nothing to worry about because they are legal in this country. Yet, here we are, children, legal children of parents with legal status being bullied simply because they are immigrants. It is not an exaggeration that our neighbors who are legal residents are being harassed by strangers in public arenas for looking like an immigrant. Strangers have accosted them and screamed at them to go home to Mexico. These are people who are born in Alabama but happen to be of brown skin. Again, people Rep. Hammon said would have nothing to worry about because they are of legal status. It is not an exaggeration that immigrants, legal status, are followed by police after they leave a Mexican grocery store or restaurant, simply because they are brown. It is not an exaggeration that immigrants are being called vectors of disease by a radio show host after one case of Hepatitis A was discovered at a Northport fast food restaurant.
These events of racial hatred are all a result of HB 56. This law supports the creation of a hostile environment not only for Rep. Hammon’s targeted audience for attrition through enforcement but for every immigrant.
During the public hearing for SB 41, Senator Beasley’s bill for repeal, Senator Hank Sanders compared these very experiences to the ones he had as a child growing up before Civil Rights in Alabama. The fear is palpable and it is real. Immigrants, US born and documented, do have to worry in Alabama that they may be racially profiled not just by law enforcement but by the average citizens who believe they are doing their citizenship duty.
It is also not an exaggeration to state that Rep. Micky Hammon’s statement reflects a disdain for religious values that guide humane behavior.
Churches, congregations, synagogues, and other houses of religious practice are the holders of the values that a society ought to reflect. These are values that reflect who we ought to be as a people, as a community, as a state, and as a nation. Every religion has in their core values the premise of loving your neighbor as yourself. Every religion has in their core values the honoring and preserving the integrity of the family unit. Every religion has in their core values the welcoming of strangers.
These values are also not an exaggeration. They are central to our faith traditions. We sing about them in our services. Our weekly readings of the Scriptures reflect these values reinforcing that which we seek to see in the world. We either live these values in our daily lives or we do not.
When these values are contrasted with the values expressed in HB 56 and its revision bill HB 658, it is clear that they conflict with the core message of our faith to welcome the stranger for we too were once strangers in the land of Egypt.
HB 658 must not be passed into law. It goes against every core value our religious state proclaims as worthy to be emulated. That is not an exaggeration, Rep. Hammon, that is the holy truth of who we are called to be.