Tea Party group rallies support for Alabama’s immigration law

Published 10:21 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2011

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

HOOVER – Opponents of Alabama’s illegal immigration law don’t like it because they are afraid the state will enforce it, state Sen. Scott Beason said Tuesday night at Veterans Park.

“They have no problem with the fact that these laws are on the books federally, because they know the federal government isn’t going to do its job,” Beason, R-Gardendale, told a gathering of more than 100 people at a Tea Party conservative rally supporting the new law.

“The federal government has decided they’re going to tell us everything we need to do – everything. From the time you’re born to the time you die, they want to make sure they’re involved in that one way or another,” Beason said. “What did we (state lawmakers) do that was so outrageous? We crafted a bill that the vast majority of it mirrors federal law. And what happens? People say it’s draconian. It does too much.”

The Rainy Day Patriots organized the rally in the last six days, founder Zan Green said. Dr. Gina Loudon, host of the Dr. Gina Show on WYDE 101.1, served as emcee for the hour-long rally.

Signed by Gov. Robert Bentley on June 9, the law was to go into effect Sept. 1. U.S. Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn issued a preliminary injunction Aug. 29, blocking enforcement of the law as she considers arguments in several lawsuits questioning the constitutionality of the law. She said the injunction would remain in place until at least Sept. 29.

“We crafted what we think is the best piece of legislation in America,” Beason said, adding he can’t understand “how anyone in the state could say we didn’t need to act on this issue.”

The law is “the biggest jobs program for Alabamians that has ever been passed,” Beason said.

“If I went out to say that Marshall County’s unemployment rate would go down over the last two or three months while the rest of the state went up, people would be willing to invest millions of dollars bringing corporations to do what we did in the counties most heavily hit by illegal immigration,” Beason said. “This is about putting Alabamians back to work.”

Dale Peterson told a cheering crowd that Alabama has “the strongest bill in the nation” and that he has “one philosophy only” on illegal immigration.

“You break into my house, and I’m going to invite you in for supper? You’ve got to be kidding me,” Peterson said. “Oh, by the way, you’ve got some kids? Okay, no problem, we’ll take them to school tomorrow. Alright, you sick? Okay, we’ll go to the hospital. No. Once you break into my country, there’s nothing further to talk about.”

He said Alabama would “lead the charge” on illegal immigration and other issues “now that we have broken a stranglehold of 136 years of liberal crap that has kept our state down.”

Clarissa Winchester, a first generation Mexican-American who grew up in Huntsville but now lives in Alabaster, told the crowd her sister-in-law was killed in a car crash with an illegal immigrant who was driving drunk. The illegal immigrant, she said, had prior DUIs and open warrants. He was released on bond and fled, she said.

“If it was one person that died from illegal immigration, it was one too many,” she added.

Jamara Greenhill said an illegal immigrant stole her identity nearly a decade ago. She spent 10,290 hours “picking up my life.” She said the FBI busted the woman who stole her identity in July. What’s going to happen to the suspect?

“A slap on the wrist, deportation and her coming right back is what I’m assuming, what I’ve been told,” she said.

She urged support for Alabama’s immigration law, adding, “if this can happen to me, it can happen to you.”

Wyndell Williams, a 62-year-old Vinemont resident, came to the rally after hearing about it on the radio. He carried a sign reading: “My wife coming to USA from the Philippines. The Right Way! The Legal Way! The Only Way!”

Williams and his wife, Elizabeth, were married in 2004 in the Philippines. They met through a mail order catalog.

“I’m trying to get my wife here legally,” said Williams, adding he “feels terrible” when he hears about people coming to the country illegally. “The reason they don’t want to do it the legal way is because it takes a bunch of time.”