New law threatens to divide county

Published 10:55 am Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Even within Shelby County, Alabama’s most conservative county, the ideological battle rages over the state’s new immigration law, called the “toughest” in the nation by Gov. Robert Bentley.

Shelby County’s lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, although some did so with trepidation. Rep. Mike Hill said he felt parts of the bill went too far, but felt something had to be done in light of the federal government’s refusal to move on the issue.

However, Hill referenced the legal battles sure to come, and indeed, the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama director, Isabel Rubio, said she expects the law to be struck down in court.

Although we can expect heated legal battles and public arguments about this issue in the weeks and months ahead, the fact still remains that our community is rapidly changing, growing and integrating new cultures.

While many in our community will support the new immigration law and many will oppose it, we can’t allow the law’s passage to burn the bridges the Shelby County population has worked to build among its different cultures and communities. Communication and cooperation are still key, from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, to the different police departments, to Shelby County’s schools, to area churches and medical services. Although illegal immigration is unacceptable and must be corrected, that doesn’t change the fact that much of Shelby County’s Latino population is here legally and simply working to make their lives and those of their loved ones better.

If we want to continue our status as one of Alabama’s — and America’s — best places to live, we will do much better to try to understand each other and coexist, rather than gaze upon each other with suspicion and contempt.

The We Say is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.