Sunday, June 26, 2011

Silent march protesting Alabama immigration law fills 11 city blocks

Marchers leave Linn Park during a silent protest of Alabama's new immigration law in Birmingham, Ala., Saturday, June 25, 2011. Several thousand people marched in protest.
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Marchers in a silent protest of Alabama's new immigration law filled 11 city blocks this evening near Linn Park in Downtown Birmingham.

The march, organized by faith groups, included no songs or chants, but offered prayers from an imam, priests and a rabbi.

Churches and faith-based groups planned the march against Alabama's new law targeting illegal immigrants, calling it a mean-spirited attempt to run an entire group of people out of a state that is still trying to recover from the damage of decades of race-based segregation laws.

Both supporters and opponents of the law describe it as the nation's toughest state crackdown on illegal immigration. Protest leaders -- many of whom were from Christian churches -- said the law violates biblical principles and could criminalize basic ministry activities such as providing food, transportation or housing assistance to the needy if the recipient is in the United States illegally.

Alabama law enforcement leaders plan to meet next week with officials from the Department of Justice to discuss the state's tough new immigration crackdown.

The new law allows officers to detain anyone who cannot prove they are in the country legally during a stop, detention or arrest.

The Alabama Sheriffs' Association wants clarification about how long those suspected of being in the country illegally should be detained.

Gov. Robert Bentley told the Media on Friday that he's open to changes in the bill. He said "it is the strongest immigration bill in the country, but we asked for that."

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