Sen. Scott Beason, who sponsored a tough new immigration law in the Alabama Senate, was approached and questioned by a group of about a half-dozen Hispanic students during a break Wednesday in an injunction hearing about the law.
“Would you rather have us fulfill our dreams and our aspirations, or would you have us in limbo?” asked Victor Palafox, a 19-year-old graduate of Pelham High School. Palafox, who seemed to assume the role of leader of the group, known as American DREAMers for the Future, continued before Beason could answer that question.
Beason (R-Gardendale) was confronted in the jury assembly room of the Hugo Black Federal Courthouse in Birmingham, which was being used Wednesday as an overflow room for the injunction hearings. The proceedings were well attended, mostly by opponents of the law, who have been holding a week-long vigil outside the courthouse before the hearing.
Beason told the students that the law “is not meant to cause problems for anyone.”
“Unfortunately, the federal government has not done what it should have done for years and years,” Beason said.
A student from Hoover High School said he doesn’t know if he could succeed with this new law. “My parents brought me here so I could succeed in life and just be a good person,” he said.
Another student mentioned he wanted to be in the Marines, but worried that the new law would make it more difficult for him. Beason responded that he didn’t expect the student to have a problem getting into the Marines.
Beason told the students, “I appreciate y’all,” and was very polite, except for one tenuous exchange, in which Palafox used the word ‘undocumented’ instead of ‘illegal.’
“Illegal,” Beason said. Palafox responded, calmly, by saying “Undocumented.”
“I think under the law they’re considered illegal,” Beason asserted.
“What’s right is not always what’s proper,” Palafox responded, and went on to ask more questions.
Reporters swarmed around the students and Sen. Beason, drawing the attention of the U.S. Marshals, who warned that when U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn returned from lunch, the overflow room should once again resume the demeanor and behavior of a courtroom. But the civil, if tense, confrontation continued.
“By not acting, we continue to create more problems for more people as the population grows,” Beason said, arguing that the state had to act.
“After 13 years, I consider myself an American, and I consider myself an Alabamian,” Palafox said. He said the new law would make it more difficult to give back to the state and the country that gave him so much, and to get a college education.
“We have different views because we come from different places,” Beason told the students. “We may not agree on this one,” he told them, shortly before thanking them for their questions and for approaching him.
The injunction hearings continue this afternoon.
For live coverage of the hearing, follow @SecondFront on Twitter or click here.