Hundreds of protesters entered the Alabama State Capitol building to hand out Valentine's cards and heart shaped lollipops.
15 February 2012
More protests against tough Alabama US immigration laws
After students last week protested Alabama's HB 56 bill, referred to as the toughest US immigration law in the country, hundreds more took to the streets on Valentine's Day as Alabama's legislators prepare to meet over the law.
Hundreds of protesters, carrying Valentine's Day themed signs and chanting in English and Spanish, crowded into the Alabama Statehouse to deliver heart shaped candies and Valentine's cards in an effort to encourage the tough US immigration law.
The HB 56 bill, which prevents illegal immigrants from applying for jobs and renting an apartment, was passed in 2011 although its effects are only just beginning to be felt. Alabama's agriculture industry has reportedly suffered huge losses in its workforce due to illegal immigrants fleeing their posts.
The law, largely drafted by Kansan politician Kris Kobach, who also wrote Arizona's tough immigration laws, has drawn criticism from many corners, although some have supported its efforts.
Alabama Federation of Republican Women president, Elois Zeanah, claimed in a statement that HB 56 was working to lower unemployment.
Zayne Smith, co-ordinator of the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, said the protest was peaceful and intended as a message of support and love for illegal immigrants. She said the proposed amendments to the law would not be enough and called for the law's full repeal.
Lawmakers in Alabama have insisted that the law will not be repealed but promised 'subtle changes' could be made to the law when legislators meet in the coming weeks.
The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.