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Demonstrators denounce Alabama illegal immigration law

November 15, 2011 |  2:53 pm

About 100 demonstrators gathered outside the Alabama state Capitol in Montgomery to call for passage of the DREAM Act and to protest the state’s new anti-illegal immigration law, widely regarded as the toughest state law crafted to combat illegal immigration.

Illegal immigration has been a volatile topic in Alabama since the legislation known as HB 56 was signed into law by Republican Gov. Robert J. Bentley in June. Anecdotal evidence suggestions that many illegal immigrants have fled the state. The demonstrators took a far different approach Tuesday.

“Undocumented, unafraid!” they chanted.

Eleven protesters sat down in the middle of a street in hopes of blocking traffic. The location for their sit-in protest: across from the Capitol and the first White House of the Confederacy. The effect on motorists was minimal. Police had already sealed off the street a block away and were rerouting traffic elsewhere.

Two more demonstrators staged a sit-in on the floor of the lobby at the Alabama State House.

In September a federal judge upheld some portions of the law, but temporarily stayed others pending further review in the courts. For example, the judge blocked a section that would have barred illegal immigrants from enrolling in public colleges and universities.

But the 115-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn also upheld a controversial section that requires police to check the residency status of suspected illegal immigrants during traffic stops.

On Tuesday, rows of police officers watched the protest. They had not taken action by midafternoon. The protesters said they expected to be arrested at some point.

“No courage, no change!” they shouted.

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-- Richard Fausset in Montgomery, Ala.

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