The faculties at two Birmingham post-secondary institutions, Birmingham-Southern College and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, have both announced that they are in opposition to Alabama’s immigration law, HB56.
The resolutions are similar, both citing the effect on the state’s reputation and the affect the law has had on education. HB56 is considered the nation’s toughest state-level immigration law.
The UAB resolution was passed Tuesday morning, according to UAB Faculty Senate chair Dr. John C. Chatham. That resolution notes that, due to HB56, UAB faculty “have been subjected to time-consuming, demeaning and discriminatory questioning in public agencies” and students “have spent hours being subject to custodial and non-custodial interrogation demonstrating their legality”, and many have left or plan to leave the state. The resolution also states that many “promising candidates to UAB graduate programs” have withdrawn applications in fear of the law. The UAB faculty prescribed repeal of HB56.
“The Faculty Senate calls attention to the harm the Alabama Immigration Law HB56 does not only to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but also to the state as a whole, and strongly urges the Alabama lawmakers and governor to repeal the law,” the resolution states.
[Both the UAB and BSC resolutions are reprinted below.]
The BSC Faculty Senate opposed the law on the grounds that it “damages the reputation of our state” and “it creates a climate of fear and xenophobia that diminishes all of us.” The announcement came out of the faculty’s November meeting, at which the meeting attendees unanimously agreed to oppose the law.
“As members of a diverse and welcoming community, the Birmingham-Southern College faculty also stands on the side of compassion and justice, in opposition to Alabama HB56,” the BSC resolution states.
Other organizations, including the Birmingham Business Alliance, have acknowledged problems with HB56.
Here is the BSC statement in full:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—At its November meeting, the Birmingham-Southern College faculty unanimously approved the following response:
Birmingham-Southern College nurtures the intellectual, ethical, and spiritual development of students from a variety of backgrounds. We seek to help all students engage in the global community by offering an education that develops understanding and appreciation for the larger world. An international community adds an important and valued dimension to the entire BSC campus. Because Alabama House Bill 56, the strict new state law targeting undocumented immigrants, alienates legal immigrants as well, it creates a climate of fear and xenophobia that diminishes all of us. Furthermore, it damages the reputation of our state and threatens the open atmosphere needed to foster a liberal arts education. United Methodists have taken a lead in opposing the law: Bishop William Willimon, head of the North Alabama Conference, with which BSC is affiliated, has taken a strong stand, saying that HB 56 runs counter to the spirit of compassion. As members of a diverse and welcoming community, the Birmingham-Southern College faculty also stands on the side of compassion and justice, in opposition to Alabama HB 56.
And the UAB resolution:
Compliant with the Faculty Senate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) mission of “Creating, maintaining, and protecting an environment conducive to the promotion and growth of teaching, learning, research, and service,” the Faculty Senate states publicly that:
Whereas Alabama teenagers, citizens legally able to attend UAB, have been taken out of the state by parents fearful of arrest and deportation,
Whereas lawfully present faculty members—who should give attention to teaching, research and patient care—have been subjected to time-consuming, demeaning and discriminatory questioning in public agencies,
Whereas the research, teaching and clinical enterprises of departments have been jeopardized, as faculty and investigators leave—or plan to leave—Alabama to avoid such aforementioned questioning,
Whereas lawfully present students—who should concentrate on their studies—have spent hours being subject to custodial and non-custodial interrogation demonstrating their legality,
Whereas students, eager to focus on learning, have had to cope with the emotional stress and fear of losing family members to arrest,
Whereas promising candidates to UAB graduate programs have already withdrawn their applications so as to avoid subjection to suspicion and harassment despite their lawful presence, and finally,
Whereas UAB has gained international acclaim not only for its research, teaching and patient care, but also for its attention to diversity, and therefore has its image tarnished by all of the aforementioned facts,
The Faculty Senate calls attention to the harm the Alabama Immigration Law HB56 does not only to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but also to the state as a whole, and strongly urges the Alabama lawmakers and governor to repeal the law.
[Disclosure: Several members of the staff of Weld (this author included) are graduates of BSC or of UAB.]