National Groups Call on Auto Industry to Stand for Repeal of Alabama’s Backward Immigration Policy

Media 02.6,12

On the eve of the 2012 session of the Alabama State Legislature, leaders of national civil rights, human rights, and worker rights organizations have begun pressuring the state’s foreign-owned automakers to stand up against the anti-immigrant law, H.B. 56. 

In the year since it has become law, H.B. 56 has been nothing short of a disaster for Alabama. H.B. 56 has legitimized racial profiling, terrorized persons of color regardless of their legal status, frightened children, entrapped foreigners – including business executives – and damaged the state’s economy.

To date, none of the automakers has announced opposition to the law.

The campaign comes after private attempts to get the attention of Daimler AG, Honda, and Hyundai, to discuss how their silence is an endorsement of the state’s demonization of Latinos and adversely impacts employees of the companies, many of whom are foreign and must travel in the state.

The online home to this campaign is at, where the groups have posted their letters to the automakers, a video highlighting how the policy has impacted Alabama’s Latinos as well as auto industry executives, a list of the top 50 foreign investors of these companies, and audio of a press conference call held earlier today to announce the campaign.

On a press call today to announce the campaign, leaders of a subset of the groups stated:

Wade Henderson, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

“There is no fix for H.B. 56. The only option that makes any sense – and the only option that will help Alabama restore its reputation in the U.S. and with the international business community – is for the legislature to approve a complete repeal of this obnoxious law.”

Janet Murguia, president and CEO, National Council of La Raza (NCLR)

 “The companies we have approached through this campaign are some of the most innovative in the world.  So we ask, why would these 21st century companies want to do business in a state that is trying to replicate some of its most egregious sins of the past century?  That is why we are asking them to take a stand against discriminatory practices that harken back to a very dark time in Alabama’s past that does not bear repeating.”

Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO, NAACP (represented on the call by Hilary Shelton, Washington bureau director and senior vice president for advocacy for the NAACP)

“The National NAACP supports the Herculean efforts of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP in its fight to bring an end to this heinous, discriminatory law that oppresses civil rights protections by legitimizing racial profiling practices by law enforcement agencies. Laws like these make Alabama and America less smart and less safe while harkening back to the racially discriminatory practices of the Old South.”

Eliseo Medina, international secretary-treasurer, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

 “H.B. 56 is a PR disaster in the Latino community. Latinos are not going to be drawn to brands that are manufactured in a state steeped, once again, in racism and discrimination that targets them. Foreign investors will think twice about being associated with the Alabama brand.”

Bob King, president, United Auto Workers (UAW)

“The UAW joined this coalition of the largest national civil rights, human rights, and labor organizations to seek the repeal of H.B. 56 because we cannot sit back and ignore Alabama’s slide into racial intolerance against Latino and other immigrants living in Alabama. Daimler, Hyundai and Honda have a responsibility to support the repeal of H.B. 56 because that racist law is absolutely contrary to each of their internal corporate civil rights policies. Your corporate policies inside the plant can’t be disconnected from your corporate position outside the plant. Otherwise, you give the impression of endorsing a double standard.”

Richard Cohen, president, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)

“Since H.B. 56 went into effect, we’ve received more than 5,000 calls from anguished families who have been terrorized by the law. Latino children — undocumented and U.S. Citizens alike — have been particularly hard hit, having to endure constant taunts such as ‘Go back to Mexico!”