IMMIGRANT RIGHTS IN A DEEP SOUTH CITY: The Effects of Anti-Immigrant Legislation on Black Elite Opinion in Birmingham, Alabama

Academic Article


  • In 2010, the Alabama GOP took control of the state legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. The next year, in a sharply partisan vote, the legislature passed, and Governor Robert Bentley (R) signed into law, the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act, also known as House Bill 56, the harshest immigration law in the country. This punitive state law was the impetus for Black elites in Birmingham to frame the immigration debate as a matter of civil rights and thus to see the issue in a new light. When Alabama Republicans moved to the Right on immigration, Black leaders in Birmingham moved Left. In this study, backed up by an event analysis of local newspapers, an analysis of interviews with members of the Black elite in Birmingham in 2013, who were previously interviewed in 2007, helps to substantiate this claim. In the summer of 2007, against the backdrop of an immigration debate in Washington, our Black elite study participants largely told us they had no stake in immigration. By 2013, many were willing to fight for immigrant rights at the highest level.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 26317301
  • Author List

  • Williams KM; Hannon L
  • Start Page

  • 139
  • End Page

  • 157
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 1