Timeline

2011

September 26th, 2011

Alabama Pastor Becomes First Arrested Under State's Anti-Immigrant Law

On September 26, 2011, Pastor Manuel Hernández was pulled over by an undercover detective in a rural area near Warrior, Alabama, and became the first person arrested under Alabama’s new anti-immigration law, just hours after a federal judge upheld the law’s key passages.

Pastor Hernández, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, worked at the Prayer Center for All Nations in Anniston, Alabama. When the detective asked to see his identification, Hernàndez provided his Mexican passport and Mexican Consular ID card, as well as a card issued by the American Association of Chaplains. The detective questioned the validity of these documents and accused Hernàndez of committing a felony by carrying the chaplain card because it had the state seal on it but was an unofficial form of identification.

Though the detective claimed to have pulled Pastor Hernández over for excessive speeding, he never issued a ticket. Hernández was arrested under suspicion of being an undocumented immigrant and spent several days in jail, where he felt discriminated against as a Latino. Hernández said officials refused to give him a Spanish language Bible and, thinking he could not speak English, said in his presence, “He is an illegal and should be treated as an illegal.” After a few days of incarceration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials released Pastor Hernández with orders to return to immigration court at a later date.