Ira Mehlman

The Obama administration does not want most immigration laws enforced. They’ve stated so explicitly in internal memos, letters to members of Congress, and in a public announcement of a policy shift in August. The Obama administration is not keen on anyone else enforcing immigration either. They’ve made that abundantly clear by suing three states (so far) – Arizona, Alabama and, most recently, South Carolina – for enacting laws designed to discourage illegal immigration.

Playing on the friendly turf of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the administration succeeded in blocking implementation of significant portions of Arizona’s SB 1070 law. However, last month the administration found itself in a less sympathetic arena: the 11th Circuit. That court rebuffed the administration’s effort to block implementation of Alabama’s HB 56, allowing all but two provisions to take effect immediately.

The Obama administration appears unwilling to accept the verdict of the 11th Circuit and unprepared to wait for the matter to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, the administration has opted for a policy that is equal parts retribution against Alabama, and intimidation of other states contemplating their own enforcement strategies.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a “request” to school superintendents across Alabama seeking voluminous amounts of data, some of which would have to be updated monthly. DOJ’s fishing expedition included detailed school enrollment data, broken down by race, ethnicity, and national origin; absentee data broken down by school, including the names of each student who has had one “unexplained absence” since implementation of HB 56; tracking information about students classified as English Learners, whether they are enrolled in remedial English classes or not, to name just a few of DOJ’s “requests.” DOJ gave Alabama schools ten days to comply.

When Alabama’s attorney general, Luther Strange, advised superintendents not comply (citing ongoing litigation over HB 56) and questioned DOJ’s legal authority to seek such detailed information, the head of DOJ’s civil rights division, Thomas Perez, shot back asserting that his department has “express authority” to investigate “potential violations of civil rights laws that protect educational opportunities for schoolchildren.” Before becoming Assistant Attorney General, Perez served as director of an outfit known as CASA de Maryland, a strident and well-financed illegal alien advocacy group that receives funding from sources as diverse as the State of Maryland and Venezuelan strongman, Hugo Chavez.


Ira Mehlman

Ira Mehlman is the Media Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.