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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Activists Take Immigration Law Protest to South Korea

Associated Press: A coalition of civil rights and labor leaders fighting Alabama's toughest-in-the-nation immigra­tion law has taken its fight over­seas with a Friday visit to South Korea to urge shareholders of Hyundai Motor Co. to call on the Yellowhammer State to repeal the law.

Representatives from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Service Employees International Union and the National Korean Ameri­can Service and Education Con­sortium attended the meeting in Seoul, South Korea, as share-holders.

Leadership Conference presi­dent Wade Henderson said he gave a presentation to Hyundai shareholders and plans to visit Daimler AG in Germany and Honda in Japan for their share­holder meetings in the coming months.

"We would hope Hyundai, Daimler and Honda would engage leaders in discussion to repeal the law," Hender­son said. "We hope that Hyundai would press Alaba­ma state officials to immedi­ately suspend enforcement of the law and encourage the state's legislature to recon­sider the impact of the law in light of the evidence of its consequences."

The wide-ranging law re­quires police to determine citizenship status during traffic stops and calls for government offices to verify legal residency for everyday transactions like obtaining a car license, enrolling a child in school, getting a job or re­newing a business license.

Republicans in control of the state legislature and gov­ernor's office have said they plan on making minor adjust­ments to the law, but have no intention of repealing it.

In an email statement, Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford expressed puzzle­ment as to the delegation's actions.

"Hyundai is puzzled as to why these organizations would route a matter of Ala­bama public policy to Seoul, Korea -- more than 7,000 miles away from the Alaba­ma Legislature, which en­acted and has the power to amend H.B. 56 (the immigra­tion law)," Hosford wrote.

He wrote that Hyundai, which has a large manufac­turing plant in Montgomery, was being "unfairly singled out" by the delegation among thousands of Alabama busi­nesses.

Henderson said the deci­sion to focus on foreign auto­makers came because they are among the most signifi­cant businesses in the state. He said Hyundai, Daimler and Honda combined employ more than 45,000 Alabami­ans and pay $4.8 billion in wages each year.

He said thus far execu­tives at Hyundai have resist­ed the delegation's request for a meeting.

SEIU international secre­tary-treasurer Eliseo Medina said the delegation made it clear to the company that they were extremely serious about dealing with the immi­gration law by making the trip to South Korea. The group held a news confer­ence for Korean media in conjunction with some of the largest of the country's labor unions.

"While Alabama may not be a household word in Ko­rea, thanks to the activities today, a large section of the Korean population will learn who Alabama is, what it stands for and what the problem is that it entails for Hyundai," Medina said.

In late February, Hyundai vice president of national sales Dave Zuchowski sent a letter to all of the company's vehicle dealerships in the United States warning them there might be protests at dealerships concerning Ala­bama's immigration law.

The dealerships were in­structed to try to maintain business as usual and to not confront the protesters. The letter gave a hotline so deal­ers could report protests or any questions they might have.

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