Marchers finished their last leg of the Selma to Montgomery March Friday morning. Just like back in the 1960s, the marchers say they're still fighting for a discrimination-free Alabama. About 2,000 people crowded outside the state’s Capitol, and rallied to repeal Alabama's Immigration Law.
In 1965 African Americans were fighting for their right to vote in Alabama, now in 2012, illegal immigrants are fighting for their right to live in Alabama.
“Anytime that he walks out the door, he might not return so my grandson might never see his father again because of this law,” said Laura Gonzalez of Athens, Alabama.
Gonzalez, 37, was born in the United States, but since Alabama began enforcing the immigration law, she says many Hispanics are afraid to live in their own communities.
“We have had a lot of people who are scared to go to work because they're scared they won't come back home,” she said.
Gonzalez marched from Selma to Montgomery this week, and along the way, she formed friendships with other people of color, who fought for their freedoms in Alabama years ago.
Montgomery native Henry Singleton, 52, was one of those people. Now living in New York, he said marching this week brought back memories of 1965 when he first marched with his grandmother alongside Martin Luther King Jr.
“We are all immigrants, everyone in the United States are immigrants,” Singleton said, “So to see them go against Mexicans and Latino speaking people, that is wrong, and the state of Alabama will pay for that.”
For many immigrants, like Gonzalez, the rally was an emotional fruition to the week.
“To know we have the support of people who have gone through that process,” Gonzalez said wiping tears from her face,” I'm crying because everything they did to this point, with this law, it seems like it's been done in vain.”
While Gonzalez is a legal citizen, other supporters would not tell CBS-8 if they were legal citizens or not. However, a number of younger illegal citizens had no problem speaking out for their communities.
“There is no reason why people would leave their homes, their families, their culture, their language and everything they know to go to a land where they don't know the language, they don't know the geography, they don't know anything about,” said Victor Palafox, 20, of Birmingham and a member of the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice.
“They don't do that by choice, they do it by necessity, and this is why the majority of the people are here today.”
A group of women from a Korean Drum Troop based out of Atlanta danced around in traditional robes playing drums for the crowd. Judy Yi, a drummer for the group, says it’s not just the Hispanic community’s fight, it is everyone’s fight.
“This is not a documented or undocumented issue, it’s really about human rights and civil rights,” Yi said.
Just like African Americans worked to earn the right to vote, Laura Gonzalez is confident the rally will help change the immigration laws.
“People before us did it and they pushed on, and they found their strength in their hearts to continue,” she said holding her hand to her chest and sighing, “That gives me the hope.”
According to Governor Robert Bentley’s Press Secretary, Jennifer Ardis, Bentley is 100% committed to not repealing the immigration law. However, Ardis told CBS-8 Gov. Bentley is open to clarifying and simplifying parts of the law to make it easier to be enforced.
On the national front, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked two portions of Alabama's immigration law yesterday. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on Arizona's immigration law, which may impact Alabama’s law.