Southern Man’s Xenophobia

What if native Americans had asked for ‘proof’ when Pilgrims landed in New England? What if Mexico had barred US Citizens from settling in California before Fremont’s arrival?  What if Sacagawea’s people had turned their backs on Lewis & Clark? What if……? And are we all now at risk of arrest unless we have our PAPERS?  It’s something for those who still celebrate Columbus Day to consider.

Sacagawea: intrepid guide, diplomat, western star

Article by Jay Reeves, Associated Press, Sunday, October 9, 2011

Terrified by Alabama’s strict new immigration crackdown, parents living in the state illegally say they are doing something that was unthinkable just days ago – asking friends, relatives, co-workers and acquaintances to take their children if they’re arrested or deported.

Many illegal immigrants signed documents in the past week allowing others to care for their children if needed, assistance groups say, and a couple living illegally in nearby Shelby County extracted a promise from the man’s boss to send their three young children – all U.S. citizens – to Mexico should they be jailed under the law.

A key sponsor of the measure, Republican state Sen. Scott Beason, said such concerns weren’t raised when legislators were considering the bill, and he wonders if the stories now are designed to “pull on heart strings” and build sympathy for illegal immigrants.

But for Maria Patino – who prays every time she leaves home – even a chance encounter with police could end with her two elementary-age children being left alone or taken to foster care if she and her husband are sent back to Mexico. Both are in the country illegally and have no friends or relatives close enough to take in the kids.

“Every time I leave I don’t know if I will come back,” Patino, 27, said through tears. “I can’t stop working. My daughters need shoes and other things.”

Social worker Jazmin Rivera helps dozens of Spanish-speaking immigrants fill out paperwork weekly, and many are now seeking legal documents called powers of attorney so friends and others could care for their children.

“People are scared, and they want to be sure their kids are safe if something happens to them,” said Rivera, a case manager at the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama.

Alabama’s law, regarded by many as the toughest in the United States, was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature this year and signed by Gov. Robert Bentley. A federal judge blocked some parts of it but allowed key pieces to stand. On Friday, the U.S. Justice Department and civil rights groups asked a federal appeals court to block the law, saying it could lead to discrimination against even legal residents.

Under the law, police making traffic stops can question anyone suspected of being in the country illegally and jail them without bond if they lack proof of citizenship.

Immigrant parents say they have little choice other than to seek out people to care for their children because they fear the youngsters – many of whom are U.S. citizens – will be left home alone or sent to foster care if they are suddenly detained.

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