The 270 View was proud to be a part of this action. We are listed under Regional, State & Local Organizations. The actual letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano can be found here.
Coalition of Civil and Human Rights Groups Urge Department of Homeland Security To Say No to Alabama’s Unconstitutional Immigration Law
Contact: Keith Rushing, Rights Working Group, 202.591.3305, 202.557.4291
November 8, 2011, Washington D.C. – Today, a diverse group of more than 300 civil rights, immigrant rights, faith and human rights organizations, including Rights Working Group came together to demand that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) take immediate action to address the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in Alabama because of HB 56, the state immigration law that took effect in September. HB 56 is the harshest anti-immigrant law in the nation and the inherent discriminatory nature of this legislation recalls the days of Jim Crow. As a result of HB 56, Latino children fear attending schools, families are unable to access municipal services such as clean water or library cards, and law enforcement is required to demand papers from anyone they suspect is undocumented.
In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, these groups demanded that DHS take all actions necessary to ensure that no one arrested or profiled under HB 56 is detained or deported by DHS, consistent with the Justice Department's position that key provisions of HB 56 are unconstitutional. Specifically, DHS should immediately suspend ICE ACCESS programs in Alabama, which require DHS to engage in partnerships with Alabama law enforcement agencies who will be engaged in discriminatory police practices while enforcing the “papers please” provisions of the law. The groups also urged DHS to promote and enforce its own guidance which limits state action in immigration matters, as well as exercise favorable discretion in any case that arises from enforcement of Alabama’s HB 56. The Department of Justice is currently challenging the constitutionality of Alabama’s law. However, the effectiveness of HB 56 hinges on the cooperation of DHS, as the law envisions DHS detaining and deporting non-citizens caught in its dragnet.
“This law requires law enforcement to make snap judgments about a person’s immigration status based on their appearance, inevitably resulting in widespread racial profiling. Under the design of this law, victims of unconstitutional police practices would be picked up and deported by DHS. DHS should not be playing this role and should act decisively in refusing to collaborate with Alabama in these discriminatory enforcement actions,” said Margaret Huang, the executive director of Rights Working Group.
“DHS, under Secretary Napolitano’s leadership, should stand firm with the Justice Department against Alabama’s HB 56, a law that promotes racial profiling and other human rights abuses of all Alabama residents,” said Huang.
ACLU Legislative Counsel Joanne Lin called on Napolitano to be more explicit about how DHS will respond to HB 56.
"Sec. Napolitano has testified that DHS will not assist in implementing HB 56, but has not explained what this means,” Lin said. “Six weeks after HB 56 went into effect, civil rights groups in Alabama and around the country are still waiting to hear whether DHS is doing anything differently in Alabama today. DHS cannot continue its normal operations in Alabama without aiding in the enforcement of a state law that the Justice Department has challenged as unconstitutional. The Obama administration must take all necessary actions to ensure that DHS does not detain or deport anyone whose civil rights have been violated under HB 56."
Formed in the aftermath of 9/11, Rights Working Group is a coalition of more than 300 community-based, grassroots and national organizations working to restore civil liberties and human rights protections for all people living in the U.S.