Jose Antonio Vargas to visit The University of Alabama at Birmingham, ‘Let’s Talk Immigration’

An undocumented immigrant, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas speaks up about the recently implemented Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act on Oct. 30 from 7-9 p.m. at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. 

The act, also referred to as HB 56, was passed by the Alabama Legislature on June 2, 2011 and was signed into law by Governor Robert Bentley on June 9, 2011. Having faced much opposition over the past year, the law has received criticism on its effectiveness. The law is said to:

  • Enforce undocumented immigration laws
  • Allow police to check ID’s for immigration status
  • Checks immigration status for receiving benefits
  • Looks into the immigration status of employees in state-wide businesses

While the provisions of the law seem harmless and somewhat fair given the taxes citizens pay that undocumented workers and immigrants don’t pay, HB 56 is called an embarrassment for the state of Alabama . To a certain extent, I agree and here’s why:

  1. HB 56 leads to racial profiling. A person of a certain race is not necessarily illegal just because they look foreign. Granting law enforcement the ability to pull over any person based on their ethnicity only perpetuates the bad rap the state of Alabama already has for racial discrimination.
  2. The law distracts police officers from their responsibility of protecting society. If our law enforcement is out searching for undocumented immigrants, who is fighting crime and upholding justice? Sadly, “super heros” don’t exist. Police officers are the real super heros.
  3. If undocumented workers willing to perform unpopular, manually laborious jobs are deported, who will take over? Men and women immigrants of all races who have yet to obtain legal status in the United States are not taking any of the positions being fought for, so why get mad? It’s frustrating hearing U.S. citizens say, “They’re taking all of our jobs,” when in reality, they’re taking the jobs nobody wants. If anything, U.S. citizens should appreciate undocumented workers’ efforts.

Vargas’ speech on HB 56 in the Alumni Auditorium at UAB’s Hill Center should be interesting and will allow Alabamians to see a different perspective, on of an openly undocumented immigrant.



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