Published Nov. 28, 2011
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said Nov. 22 that it will analyze the civil rights impact of state immigration enforcement laws with a focus on Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
The commission will analyze whether these laws adversely affect the civil rights of both naturalized and native-born U.S. citizens and non-citizen immigrants on the basis of color, race, or national origin, and whether they cause a denial of equal protection in the administration of justice. In particular, the commission will examine whether the state-level immigration laws foster discrimination or contribute to an increase in hate crimes; cause elevated racial and ethnic profiling; affect students' rights to public primary and secondary school education; and compromise public safety and community policing.
South Carolina enacted legislation that requires law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of anyone they arrest, regardless of the offense. It also creates an immigration enforcement unit that’s part of the state Department of Public Safety and allows residents to sue public officials they believe are not following the law. The measure also makes it a felony for anyone to be in the country illegally.
The law is being challenged by the U.S. Justice Department.
"I believe that the enactment of these state immigration enforcement laws presents a pressing national civil rights issue that affects immigrants and U.S. citizens alike. I'm proud that my fellow commissioners joined me in voting unanimously and in bipartisan manner to have the commission look into this important issue,” said Commission Chairman Martin R. Castro.
A briefing will be held in 2012 that will allow the commission to receive testimony as to the impact that these state-enacted laws have had on local communities.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is an independent, bipartisan fact-finding agency charged with monitoring federal civil rights enforcement.