Radio hosts tour Alabama to shed light on immigration law
A Spanish language radio station launched a 14-day march through 14 cities in Alabama this week in an effort to spur dialogue about the state’s tough new immigration law, H.B. 56.
Local radio personalities of La Jefa Radio, Alabama’s only Spanish language station, are interviewing people they encounter as they walk what they have cleverly dubbed “Route 56” for six hours each day.
“I want to promote dialogue among my Spanish speaking listeners and residents in Alabama with different backgrounds,” José Antonio Castro, the station’s director of programming said. “I will share the opinions of my audience with the people I meet and give Alabama residents an opportunity to speak to approximately 100,000 people in our state and around the world.”
The interviews are being broadcasted by the station, and online through a streaming service. La Jefa Radio says its audience spans 85 cities in Alabama and throughout the United States, as well as some Spanish speaking countries in Latin America.
The walk started Monday in Athens and will end on Saturday, Nov. 19, in the state capital of Montgomery. So far, Castro and his on-air partner Orlando Rosa have been to Hunstville, Cullman, and Albertville, where they talked to people affected by the immigration law.
In Cullman, a woman who identified herself as Elena teared up as she talked about her 19-year-old son, an undocumented immigrant who has lived in Alabama since he was 3 and refused to leave the house out of fear for 10 days after the law was upheld by a district federal judge.
A Cuban-American Alabama resident named Jorge said a police officer accused him of presenting false documents and detained him during a routine traffic stop until he was convinced that he was not a “Mexican immigrant.”
Castro and Rosa also talked to restaurant owners, who complained that they were struggling to stay open because some of their employees — legal residents or citizens with family members who are undocumented — had left the state.
The pair will be heading to Oneonta, Gardendale, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Centreville, Clanton, Selma, Pratville, and Wetumpka in the coming days.
“We need to speak to each other instead of speaking past each other,” Castro said. “I hope that our walk and our conversations will help bring Alabamans together.”
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