Ala. governor rejects bishops' immigration plea

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (RNS) Gov. Robert Bentley won't support a repeal of the state's get-tough immigration law, rejecting a Christmas appeal from a group of top religious leaders.

"Gov. Bentley believes Alabama needs an effective illegal immigration law because the federal government has failed in its duties to enforce the law," wrote Bentley's press secretary, Jennifer Ardis, in an email.

Religious leaders battle Alabama immigration law

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Alabama religious leaders have filed statements in federal court expressing their concern that a new immigration law would interfere with the practice of their religion and Christian mandates to minister to all people.

Bishops in the Episcopal, United Methodist and Roman Catholic churches and 17 other church ministry leaders on Wednesday (Aug. 17) filed affidavits in the federal court lawsuits that seek to block enforcement of the new law.

Their lawsuit was consolidated with those filed by the U.S. Justice Department and Hispanic advocacy groups that also sought to void the new state law.

Most of the provisions of Alabama’s new immigration law go into effect Sept. 1.

The bishops in their affidavits described their churches’ ministries, including those designed to help feed, clothe and shelter the poor.

“In providing or supporting these ministries, we do not—and would not—refuse to assist any person in need because he or she lacked legal immigration status,” said Episcopal Bishop of Alabama Henry Parsley.