Forgiven, As Long As You Have Papers

Joey here.

Every religion and culture has something to teach us.  We like this passage from the Book of Mormon, Moroni 7:5.

“For I remember the word of God, which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.”

Yesterday, Jeffrey wrote about Alabama TV ads, in which Christianity was made to sound like a qualification for public office.  We were offended because the Constitution prohibits any federal religious test, and that principle has been extended to the states through the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

One ad proudly announced that the candidate opposes relief for Dreamers (children born abroad who grew up here as American kids, but have no U.S. papers).

In 2011, Alabama enacted HB 56, a law intended to drive unauthorized immigrants out of the state.  It is unforgiving, presaging current federal enforcement policy.

But Alabama’s government is forgiving to tax cheats.


We thought about this today, when we learned that the governor of New Jersey signed into law a bill making NJ-resident Dreamers, already eligible for in-state college tuition, eligible for state-funded scholarships.

“By their works ye shall know them.”

Last night, we considered biking south of, north of, or through, Bankhead National Forest, on our way west.  This morning we chose the northern route, 61 miles to Russellville, Alabama.

We took some rough county roads, past houses with tornado shelters dug into hillsides.


We passed interesting livestock: goats, cows, mules, miniature ponies, and some remarkable longhorn cattle.


A long country downhill was so rough and steep (much steeper than appears in this photo), Jeffrey braked the entire way and had to stop to enjoy the view.


But most of today’s journey was on roads more or less like this: dual carriageway, speed limit 65 mph (105 kph), wide shoulder, rumble strip between shoulder and motorway, largely flat.  Not bad!


For $1 at Dollar General, Jeffrey got a Canadian foam “noodle” that he extended to our left, to encourage Alabama drivers to obey the state law requiring motorists to give bicycles at least 3 feet (1 meter) of passing clearance.  It seems to help.


We didn’t take the turn to Muscle Shoals.  Jeffrey just loves the name.  And Lynyrd Skynyrd’s lyrics were playing in his head.

We had the usual pleasant personal encounters today, with a former motorcyclist who admired our bike, with people from Mumbai running a sandwich shop, with drivers, with the farmer who raises those longhorn cattle.  Perhaps the most interesting was Lisa.


People across Alabama have been sympathetic to our mission, once they understood it.  We didn’t have to explain to Lisa.

Lisa has a strong accent from her Tennessee childhood.  She has nine grandchildren even though she looks like a kid herself.  And . . . her husband is Mexican, Lisa is a certified Spanish-English interpreter, and she has helped many, many people caught in the maze of our immigration laws.

Lisa knows.

She found us an excellent room rate, offered food and drink, gave us every good wish.  And she volunteered that the problem with U.S. immigration policy is public ignorance.  She agrees with us that our fellow Americans are smart and kind.  Too many just don’t understand what is being done in their name.

Alabama is magic!  Its chickens have fingers!

E88E244A-E39D-4F53-836E-CD84BBE3B6B3But it’s time for us to move on.

Before embarking on this Ride, we mused about whether the government of Alabama reflects the will of its people.  Based on our small, unscientific sample, we think the people here are smarter, kinder, better, than their government.  If their government reflects the popular view of refugees, it’s because so few Alabamians know what we know.

We weren’t here long.  Our impact is tiny.  We’re happy that Lisa, who also knows, will stay.

Tomorrow, to beat the heat, we’ll try for an early start.


3 thoughts on “Forgiven, As Long As You Have Papers

  1. I was so happy to see you quote from Moroni. It’s a good way to know what is good and what is not. This ride you are doing is a mind bender as well as a challenge to the body. I admire your persistence. Ride on!

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