Groups call for Birmingham to be a sanctuary city after illegal immigrant arrests

Police ICE
[Photo Credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP]

Across a five-state ICE region, which includes Alabama, on average 200 illegal immigrants are being arrested each week, according to Bryan Cox, Southern Region Communications Director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a weekend piece.

According to Cox, the region consists of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, and “about 90 percent of arrests in fiscal year 2017 and the first two quarters of fiscal 2018 were criminal.”

In light of the arrests, immigrant rights organizations such as Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA) and Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ) are pushing for Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin to make the Magic City a sanctuary city to protect the illegal immigrants.

“At least have Birmingham to recognize the work of immigrants and undocumented immigrants in our city,” ACIJ Lead Organizer Miguel Carpizo said.

Multi-year effort

Last January, then-Birmingham Mayor William Bell held a press conference with community leaders naming Birmingham a “welcoming city” regardless of immigration status.

“Every individual who resides, works, plays or come through the city will know they are welcome and have no fear in interacting with their municipal government in any way,” Bell said.

Following his press conference, the Birmingham City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting illegal immigrants, though they did not declare it as a sanctuary city.

But the HB56, also known as the Beason Hammon Act, stopped the city from setting a policy contrary to federal or state law.