Immigration law forum hears arguments on both sides

    Some ministry groups say Alabama's immigration law could make them criminals for providing assistance to undocumented immigrants and tonight, many people got to voice their concerns about that law.

    People gathered at Highlands United Methodist Church have been asking questions about what this all means. Today we toured a Birmingham ministry center. They say, this new law could put them in jeopardy.

    "We will not tolerate a law that violates our mission," Scott Douglas, Executive Director Greater Birmingham Ministries said.

    Each week, 120 families sign up for help with food, clothes, and utilities with the Greater Birmingham Ministries. But they're worried the new law would make{}their mission a{}crime.

    "A{}parent who is in fear of deportation may not come in to an organization that checks for citizenship documents, therefore not getting the help they need, therefore, depriving the child of what they need, like water, gas, and utilities at home," Douglas said.

    Tonight's forum is allowing people to ask legal questions, and offer concerns.

    "If the law carries past September, myself and many other clergy are prepared to break the law," Rev. Matt Lacey, Pastor, Woodlawn United Methodist said.

    But Clarissa Winchester, has a different perspective. Her family came to the{}U.S. from Mexico -{}later receiving citizenship. Six years ago, on the day the legislators passed the new law, her sister in law was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver -an illegal immigrant.

    "I don't feel it's fair for people to have their cake and eat it too," Clarissa Winchester said.{}"That people can come here and enjoy the benefits of being a citizen, but when they choose to break the law, they're not forced to face the repercussions of breaking the law. It just doesn't make sense."

    She says, her stance on the immigration law isn't a popular one.

    "It's very difficult," she said.{}"There have been many times I've cried behind closed doors because of mean emails and things people have said, but I just look back at the pictures and see through the eyes of family members."

    Tonight's forum was organized by the North Alabama Conference of United Methodists and they plan to hold several more all over the state. The next will be in Huntsville on July 18th. Then on August 22nd, they'll hold one in Tuscaloosa.

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