Lambda Legal Joins Civil Rights Groups to File Amicus Brief Opposing Alabama Anti-Immigrant Law, HB 56

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"Alabama’s new immigration law is unconscionable."
November 22, 2011

"The LGBT community knows all too well how easily people who are perceived to 'look different' or 'act different' can be singled-out for harassment and persecution."


(New York, November 22, 2011)—Late yesterday, Lambda Legal and 30 public interest organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama v. Bentley, the constitutional challenge to Alabama's anti-immigrant law, HB 56, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The brief clarifies that Alabama HB 56—like the anti-immigrant measure, SB 1070, passed in Arizona—will lead to racial profiling, discrimination and anti-immigrant extremism.  The federal government has also challenged the constitutionality of HB 56 in its own lawsuit.
"Alabama’s new immigration law is unconscionable: HB 56 mandates racial profiling and permits the detention of U.S. citizens, keeps children from immigrant families away from schools, and erodes relationships between immigrant communities and law enforcement," said Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Lambda Legal Staff Attorney. "LGBT immigrants and LGBT people of color are particularly vulnerable because HB 56 criminalizes people based on their appearance. The LGBT community knows all too well how easily people who are perceived to 'look different' or 'act different' can be singled-out for harassment and persecution. This law will ultimately make communities less safe." 
The brief filed yesterday argues that HB 56 will lead local authorities to investigate disproportionately the immigration status of people of color. HB 56 particularly threatens the LGBT community, especially LGBT immigrants and LGBT people of color, many of whom already experience heightened hostility, harassment and even violence based on appearance, mannerisms and other traits. Such wrongful treatment often occurs at the hands of local officials who lack a basic understanding of either sexual orientation or gender identity. HB 56 will exacerbate the fear and distrust that dissuade many marginalized LGBT individuals who are also immigrants and people of color from seeking protection from—or offering to assist—law-enforcement officials. Additionally, since HB 56 forbids entering into contracts with undocumented persons, it appears to prohibit Lambda Legal and other lawyers from representing LGBT immigrants in Alabama.  Furthermore, by forcing vulnerable populations deeper into the shadows, HB 56 deters people from seeking medical care, and limits access to life-saving medical care and treatment for HIV/AIDS.
Counsel for amici curiae include Arnold & Porter LLP, Windrose LLP, and Gespass & Johnson. Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Staff Attorney, is handling this matter for Lambda Legal.
** Espinoza-Madrigal is fluent in Spanish**

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Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.