Updated: Wednesday, 15 Feb 2012, 8:59 AM CST
Published : Tuesday, 14 Feb 2012, 2:15 PM CST
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WALA) - Hundreds of immigrants and religious leaders rallied in Montgomery to protest Alabama’s illegal immigration law.
They argue the law is morally wrong, and they want legislators to repeal it.
These men and women feel they've earned a right to be here through hard work. But they said Alabama’s new illegal immigration law is taking their opportunities away from them and hurting local economies.
In Spanish, legal immigrant Felipe Patino said "(This law) claims we're thieves; that we're taking away jobs from Americans, but that's a big lie. Truthfully, immigrants are doing jobs that Americans don't want to do."
A few hundred immigrants and religious leaders brought their protest to the Alabama Statehouse on Tuesday.
They said they want legislators to repeal the law. And on Valentine's Day, they delivered cards to their lawmakers with messages like ‘Be my Valentine, repeal HB56.’
"What this is really about is justice; it's human rights, and it’s about that everybody deserves an opportunity. This is a country of immigrants," Rio D’Angelo, pastor of a church filled with immigrants, said.
But there are real people behind the message, people like Jose Diaz. The father of three came here from Mexico for a better life. Now, he's having a hard time holding a job, and his water was recently cut off from his home.
In Spanish, Diaz said, "There's no jobs in Mexico. There's too much violence there. The state of Alabama needs us to work. It would be beneficial to repeal this law because it leaves a lot of impacts on the state and impacts a lot of people.”
Speakers here emphasize that America is a country of immigrants, and the immigration law has started a whole new civil rights movement.
In a statement, the president of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women said the law is working to lower unemployment.
However, these people said they only want to work, and ultimately this law is hurting the entire state.