DOJ Ignores Civil Rights Violation Aspect Of Alabama Law

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By Felicia Persaud

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Aug. 5, 2011: Almost two months since Alabama’s new “KKK” laws against undocumented immigrants was signed into law by the state’s governor, Robert Bentley, the U.S. Justice Department has stepped in to block it much like they did with Arizona’s SB 1070. Can someone say it’s about time!

Apparently, responding to repeated requests from immigrant and civil rights activists, and of course with election coming up in 2012, the U.S. Justice Department on Monday, August 1, filed a lawsuit seeking to block H.B. 56, which is set to become effective on September 1.

As U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder summed it up: “Today’s action makes clear that setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility that cannot be addressed through a patchwork of state immigration laws.”

As an excerpt from the 45-page complaint against Alabama states: “In our constitutional system, the federal government has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters. This authority derives from the United States Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. The nation’s immigration laws reflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations, and humanitarian interests…

“Although a state may exercise its police power in a manner that has an incidental or indirect effect on aliens, it may not establish its own immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with the federal immigration laws. The Constitution and federal immigration laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country.”

The complaint also slams H.B. 56 for violating the Commerce Clause, by attempting to restrict housing and transportation of undocumented immigrants, which affects interstate commerce, as well as by attempting to annul existing contracts held by undocumented immigrants and objects to the schooling provisions of H.B. 56, saying they have a chilling effect on an “alien’s ability … to go to school.”

But interestingly, not Holder or the suit states anything about the civil rights violations that state governments in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia and other states are committing.

Instead, it seems the lawsuit is motivated purely by jurisdictional concerns and less about the fact that such laws could lead to racial profiling of all minorities, whether immigrant or not.

The question to be asked is – is the Obama administration as usual trying to do the bare minimum on the issue of immigration while it continues its enforcement only policies nationally?

There is no denying that a spade needs to be called a spade and what these Arizona copy cat laws are is racist and a violation of the constitutional rights of immigrants, whether documented or not!

It is time that Holder and the administration show the cohones to really call these laws as they are – bigoted and clearly a throwback to the pre-civil rights era when the KKK ran the town.

The DOJ’s lukewarm efforts are not helping to stem the tide of conservative states trying to show their power over a black President but hurting. A stronger message needs to be sent to put a stop to state lawmakers believing they are federal immigration enforcement officers or the federal government and a law unto themselves or the disease of bigoted, anti-immigration laws, racial profiling and constitutional violations will continue to spread like wild fire.

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.

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