Sunday, November 6, 2011

"All Americans should feel ashamed"

November 5, 2011

Standing in the Schoolhouse Door

Surely Alabama’s attorney general, Luther Strange, did not mean to summon the memory of Gov. George Wallace when he picked a fight with the Department of Justice last week over the state’s new immigration law.

Surely no law-enforcement official of his stature would have responded to a fact-gathering request by challenging the federal government’s “legal authority” to investigate reports of civil rights abuses. Could there be an attorney general in the South — or anywhere — who is not acutely aware, and mindful, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

The federal inquiry was prompted by the state’s new immigration law, which took effect in September, part of which requires schools to check the immigration status of schoolchildren and their parents. The Justice Department has already sued Alabama over the law, the nation’s cruelest collection of immigration enforcement schemes and punishments. After receiving reports that students were being harassed and bullied, and that frightened parents were keeping children out of school, the department asked 39 school superintendents for data on student absences and withdrawals since the school year began....

...Alabama has seized from the federal government the job of controlling immigration within its borders. The law’s architects and supporters proclaim that their goal is to catastrophically disrupt the lives of illegal immigrants and their families. With reports of harassment and panic, and of a mass exodus of immigrants fleeing the state, the potential for civil rights abuses is acutely obvious.

That Alabama’s attorney general would not welcome a federal inquiry, but bristle instead, with an implicit appeal to state’s rights — with all the defiant history of intolerance and minority oppression those words suggest — says volumes. All Americans should feel ashamed...MORE    

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