Perez: Don’t you dare detain illegal immigrants!
Last week we reported (here) on Asst. Attorney General Thomas Perez visiting Birmingham on his hunt to find any racism, under any rock, in Alabama whose US Senator, Jeff Sessions, attempted to hold up his nomination to the Justice Department. It’s purely speculation on my part, but I see some political payback in Perez’s zeal to find something (anything!) to nail those Alabamans.
Here is a report on his latest salvo at MSNBC:
The Justice Department has sent a letter to dozens of local law enforcement agencies in Alabama that receive federal money, warning them that they risk losing that funding if they’re not careful in how they enforce the state’s tough new immigration law.
The Obama administration has already sued the state, claiming that the law is unconstitutional. Now it’s keeping the pressure on by addressing how the law is carried out.
The law, HB56 passed by the Alabama Legislature in June, attempts to combat illegal immigration by establishing harsh penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers, requiring public schools to report children and parents who are not legal residents, and forbidding illegal migrants from having any transactions with the government. The law creates new immigration crimes, and puts local police in the position of enforcing immigration.
Federal justice officials were in Birmingham last week to investigate the civil rights impacts of HB56, which is designed to make it extremely uncomfortable, if not impossible, for illegal immigrants to live in the state. Among the officials was Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general of Justice Department’s civil rights division.
In an unusual letter addressed to 156 Alabama sheriff’s offices and police departments, Perez tells them that the federal government is monitoring how they enforce the part of the law that requires checking the immigration status of people who are stopped for questioning.
It is critical, Perez says, that local law agencies “ensure that your enforcement of this law does not result in unlawful stopping, questioning, searching, detaining, or arresting” in violation of the Constitution “or targeting of racial and ethnic minorities.” [or we will fry your bottoms!—no, he didn’t say that, out loud anyway!—ed].
Meanwhile, in Perez’s home state of Maryland, his former organization, CASA de Maryland suffered a legal setback, here.