'We feel attacked': Protesters decry immigration enforcement tactics at Gardendale court

by Connor Sheets

Alabama.com

Gardendale has swiftly emerged as ground zero for aggressive immigration enforcement in Alabama, according to local advocacy groups.
 
Police officers, through the city's municipal court, have since June reportedly detained numerous Latinos and turned them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a practice that was largely unheard of until recently of and that remains rare but increasingly common across the nation, advocates say.
 
On Friday morning, representatives of two Birmingham-area immigrant rights groups staged a protest outside Gardendale Municipal Court aimed at raising awareness of the immigration enforcement tactics that have been deployed there, which they describe as egregious and discriminatory.
 
The action featured speeches by representatives of the Adelante Alabama Worker Center and the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, as well as impassioned pleas for justice from area residents who have been impacted by the tactics.
 
"We want the police here in Gardendale to stop working with ICE," local Latino resident Flores Vega said through a translator. "I'm a worried mother. My son came to court here - he's a U.S. citizen - and they turned him right over to ICE ... We feel scared, we feel attacked and we want this to stop now."