Marchers Urge Birmingham to Become Sanctuary City

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Immigrant advocates and residents marched in downtown Birmingham Saturday from Kelly Ingram Park to City Hall. They want Birmingham to become a “sanctuary city” – one that does not use city resources to carry out federal immigration enforcement.

The rally and march included music, taco trucks, and speakers urging the Birmingham City Council to approve a proposed sanctuary city ordinance presented last month.

Jessica Vosburgh, director of the Adelante Alabama Worker Center, says the ordinance “would protect Birmingham immigrants, Muslims, and other vulnerable communities. Part of the idea of the march today was to show that Birminghamians support sanctuary, and also call on folks to reach out to their council-people – it’s an election season. The communities that we work with are under open attack under this current federal administration, so Birmingham needs to act now.”

Cesar Mata, another Adelante organizer, came to Birmingham from Mexico 19 years ago.

Cesar Mata of Adelante Alabama Worker Center
Dan Carsen, WBHM

Cesar Mata of Adelante Alabama Worker Center

“It’s so important because we don’t want families to be torn apart,” he says. “We don’t want our taxes to be going just to keeping people in jail, people who have no other crimes — just for being undocumented. And that’s coming out of our pockets.”

A statement from the Southern Poverty Law Center in support of the march says “federal coopting of local law enforcement makes us all less safe by undermining the trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

In January, the Birmingham City Council passed a resolution supporting undocumented immigrants. The council could consider the sanctuary city measure this month.