BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Opponents to Alabama's new immigration law held a candlelight vigil in the run-up to a court hearing on whether to temporarily block enforcement of the law.
Since Friday, a group of opponents have staged the vigil in advance of Wednesday's hearing at the Hugo L. Black U.S. Courthouse in Birmingham, The Birmingham News reported.
"We've gotten a lot of support from the general public as well as the immigrant community," said Julieta Garibay, a board member of United We Dream who helped organize the vigils.
Opponents of the law said Wednesday's hearing may determine whether people will be forced to leave the state or the United States if the new law is allowed to stand, the News reported.
"This really is a deciding factor for many in this group as to whether we leave the state or go back to our home countries," said Jose Perez, a 15-year-old high school student in the country illegally.
"This [law] bans me from applying for college. I think this is unfair," said Perez, explaining he was born in Mexico but his family moved to the United States 13 years ago.
Chief U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn is considering whether she should grant a preliminary injunction to temporarily bar enforcement of the law while a court challenge is resolved. She has consolidated three federal lawsuits -- filed by the U.S. Justice Department, bishops from three religious denominations, and several immigrant groups and individuals -- that seek to void part or all of Alabama's new immigration law.
Opponents said the new law tries to usurp federal authority, discourages illegal immigrants from sending their children to school and makes it difficult to live and work in the state.