Opponents rally as court hears challenges to immigration law - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Opponents rally as appeals court hears challenges to Ala. immigration law

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A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments in the legal challenges against the tough new Alabama immigration law.

Alabama's immigration battle began June 9th when Governor Bentley signed House Bill 56 into law.

"There are persons who are being racially profiled," said Rev. Anthony Johnson with the Birmingham Metro NAACP. "Our position is to make sure no one is harmed because of the law."

Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union say they want to do the same thing. The organization has joined several other civil rights groups, including the U.S. Department of Justice and the Southern Poverty Law Center, fighting for what they call justice.

They say it is the federal government's job to make and enforce immigration laws, not individual states.

"Our country just can't have every community deciding who is here lawfully and who isn't," said Olivia Turner with the ACLU. "If we did that, it would be like every community setting up its own foreign policy."

Nationally known groups aren't the only ones in opposition. Individuals took to the streets in protest in Huntsville.

"I feel like this law sends a message of separation. And it says we don't want you here," said protester Christine. "We're tired of all the lies and the negative stereotypes that are given. We're working people and just like everyone else we work and we take care of our families."

While area business owners and farmers didn't put their messages on signs, some believe this law is already sending a sign that their livelihoods could soon be in jeopardy.

"I cut my strawberry production," said farmer William Burks. "I had two acres. Now, I've got one acre this next year because I don't even know if I can get that picked."

Supporters say states have been forced to act to protect their resources because the federal government hasn't done enough to quell the influx of illegal immigrants.

Copyright 2012 WAFF. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.

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