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The Justice Department Strikes Back; By Danielle Beach-Oswald

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Ericholder


For all the complaints that one may have regarding this administration's commitment to immigration reform, the latest actions of the Justice Department are worthy of some praise.  Eric Holder's Department of Justice is striking back on bigoted state immigration laws and is attacking them on multiple fronts.


Although a law suit has already commenced against Alabama for its excessive new immigration law, the Department of Justice has taken this one step further and is also considering a new law suit over possible civil liberty infractions.  Although the Justice Department previously requested from the Alabama Attorney General information about Hispanic students that were pulled from their schools after their harsh immigration law when into effect, the Alabama Attorney General balked at the request.  Given the increasing nature of deadlock between the Justice Department and Alabama officials, with individuals in Alabama's Department of Education instructing school boards not to comply with the Justice Department's requests, a new law suit is expected about possible civil right infractions in the state of Alabama.


Alabama's state history is already checked from its segregationist past.  It was nearly 50 years ago when then Alabama Governor George Wallace attempted to stop federal efforts at desegregating the University of Alabama.  Although a federal appeals court already temporarily blocked one aspect of the Alabaman bill which required public schools to ask for birth certificates to determine their citizenship, certain provisions of the bill are already in effect including allowing police to check immigration status of individuals if they are enforcing other laws and forbidding illegal aliens from engaging in business transactions.  Since its implementation, the Justice Department has also begun an investigation in other civil rights violations that may be happening in the state - including racial profiling of Hispanics during traffic stops.   Already there are questions of jurisdiction with Alabama claiming that the Department of Justice doesn't have the authority to request the school records. 


 The Department of Justice should also be applauded for asking the Supreme Court not to grant certiorari with regards to Arizona's immigration law.  After the 9th Circuit upheld a federal judge's ruling that preventing several aspects of the bill from going into effect, the Department of Justice wants the Supreme Court to uphold the 9th Circuit's decision and believes that that there are no remaining issues of contention.


These battles between the Department of Justice and various states show that the issue of immigration is broader than immigration itself - it also encompasses the issue of civil rights.  Although America prides itself on having moved based the era of Jim Crow laws, electing an African American President, and creating equality for different races, oppressive immigration laws are a step back into the 1950s and 1960s. 

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