Last Updated:November 23 @ 09:22 pm

Obama Justice Dept. moves into Alabama

By Jay Reeves

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - The Justice Department said Tuesday it was establishing its first civil rights unit in Alabama, a move that comes after the state's crackdown on illegal immigration raised broader concerns about compliance with federal laws.

While the unit wasn't formed as a direct result of Alabama'simmigration law — parts of which have been blocked by federal courts — officials said it would examine issues related to immigrants and also matters involving fair housing laws, police brutality claims, compliance with federal disability laws and minority protection.

Attorneys from the unit based in Birmingham will be responsible for both criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits to enforce civil rights laws.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Perez said the unit will ensure that the federal government has a continuing eye on civil rights issues in Alabama, which was a hotbed of unrest during the civil rights movement half a century ago.

"This is about sustainability ... of civil rights enforcement," Perez said during a news conference held at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

Birmingham is the eighth U.S. city out of 94 with U.S. attorney offices to have a civil rights unit. The nearest similar unit is in Memphis, Tenn.

U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said the department's work investigating effects of the immigration law resulted in new relationships in Alabama between government attorneys and the public and the realization that more work was needed on civil rights oversight.

"We rounded out our affiliations with members of the civil rights community," she said.

Doug Jones — a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted the final two Ku Klux Klan members convicted in a church bombing that killed four black girls in 1963 — said the Justice Department never before had a civil rights unit based in the state. During the civil rights era and afterward, he said, civil rights laws were narrower in scope and such cases were mainly overseen from Washington with assistance from local federal prosecutors and investigators.

"I think the immigration bill put us back in the national spotlight. I think that's why you're seeing this coming together now," said Jones, now an attorney in private practice.

The unit will be headed by Robert Posey, a longtime federal prosecutor who worked with Jones on the church bombing cases. With a core group of five lawyers in Birmingham and Huntsville, it will handle cases from the northern half of the state.

The Obama administration sued the state to block the law clamping down on illegal immigration after Republican Gov. Robert Bentley signed it last year, and Posey said the unit already is involved in two cases involving allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers.

The department's decision to place a civil rights unit in Alabama shows the state will has problems guaranteeing legal equality years after the civil rights era ended, said Shay Farley, legal director of Alabama Appleseed, a public interest legal office based in Montgomery.

"It highlights the fact that the war isn't over," she said.

Isabel Rubio, the head of an advocacy group for Hispanic immigrants, said the formation of a citizen's advisory board to work with the new unit would make it easier for members of the immigrant community to stay in contact with civil rights attorneys. "It will provide a clear avenue for communication to have a way to move forward," said Rubio, director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama.

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20 Comments

  1. capricorn1Comment by capricorn1
    August 22, 2012 @ 7:32 am

    just as i suspected,my state will be next south carolina.
    the hoodwink cheif oblamer has something going on behind the scenes.explain why dept homeland security just purchased all that high powered ammo?and i believe other agencies have purchased millions of rounds also.
    if that doesnt get your attention WHAT WILL AMERICA?

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    • longscoutComment by longscout
      August 22, 2012 @ 10:37 am

      I am glad that you are referencing the ammunition and related purchases that are so inelegantly disguised as innocent by the Administration, especially in so much as the President is on record (does no one else recall? that he thinks and intends to establish what he thinks to be a necessary and armed civilian ‘plicing force’ in this nation)? Brown Shirts? I do not care what colors they are meant to fly: it is unacceptable beyond what we already have ~ the classical militia of armed citizens resting but vigilant in their homes and at their work, ready to respond to such need as becomes apparent. Most citizens have forgotten this and smirk if told. Let’s not wait until those innocent and naive neighbors call out in panic. Stop this President in the election booth.

      (Call me capricorn2 and I’ve got the knees and experience to prove it!)

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    • snowhawkComment by snowhawk
      August 22, 2012 @ 11:44 am

      I hope you’ve demanded a answer from your Congress people as to why this is taking place.

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    • lynniehComment by lynnieh
      August 22, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

      They also probably don’t want us to have the ammo.

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  2. BillzillaComment by Billzilla
    August 22, 2012 @ 9:35 am

    “Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Perez said the unit will ensure that the federal government has a continuing eye on civil rights issues in Alabama, which was a hotbed of unrest during the civil rights movement half a century ago.”

    Fifty years have gone by and the entire state is being “tarred” by the “Department of Justice” under Obama, and Holder as if civil rights violations are the norm there. Obama and his lackey Holder must go. Vote in November to remove this Hugo Chavez wannabe dictator from office. Let him pay for his own green’s fees, and Michelle’s extravagant vacations from his own pocket!

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  3. SweetOlBobComment by SweetOlBob
    August 22, 2012 @ 9:57 am

    Enforce “civil rights” laws my (fillin your own anatomical reference here)!
    They are here to stop our own state laws enforcing immigration violations.
    They are the latest crop of government paid carpet baggers. Now, we here in Alabama get to see first hand what the criminal Holder has been putting Arizona through.
    We need to throw them out of our state.

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    • middlegroundComment by middleground
      August 22, 2012 @ 11:18 am

      Every thinking person in this country is now finding themselves in the same position the Confederate States and its disenfranchised citizens found themselves during the Reconstruction Period, namely under the control of corrupt officials who were forcing their will through occupation. It isn’t just Alabama that is finding Washington-based carpet baggers trying to act in an unconstitutional manner, it is almost every state where tax money and borrowed money were collected from the responsible, sent to Washington and then sent back to states, cities and counties that had spent themselves into financial trouble under the heading of a “stimulus”. Try finding authority for Obama’s czars and the seizure of GM and Chrysler as privately-owned corporations? Nowhere in the Constitution can you find authority for the federal government to grab money from the responsible and disburse it to the fiscally irresponsible — that is what occupying armies do.

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  4. johntComment by johnt
    August 22, 2012 @ 10:09 am

    i lived in birmingham,al. for 25 years. back in the 80′s when i moved there my efforts to find a job were almost hopeless because of the affirmitive action laws that were in effect. the mayor and councel were dominated by black members and the mayor had them wrapped around his little finger. he was openly a racist. and has been on teh local news and flaunted that fact on several occassions, even going as far as stating that “white people are affraid of me, and thats good”. there were a few (very few) token whites on his committees, but they were there only to add color to the room. i went to work for a black man who was made rich by this mayor. any job that happened using dump trucks he either got or he got a 10% cut. he finally went under and the U.S.Marshals shut him down and took his equipment. but what i was getting at is this; when this bigot left office and his cronies went with him, birmingham started to improve race – wise. i began seeing more people getting to work of every race. i seen race relations improve greatly. more mixed races were seen together. worked together and played together. holder will move his department to birmingham and disrupt the equality that all the citizens have worked for since the 60′s. mark my words, in a year if the doj is permitted to stay in birmingham especially under this adminstrations rule, there will be caos once again. and the thing is, i believe thats what they’re trying to do. birmingham is first then they’ll move an office to Selma,Al. to oversee the southern half of the state and all this is going to do is open back up those old wounds that the people of the great state of Alabama has worked so hard to heal…

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  5. 77fordComment by 77ford
    August 22, 2012 @ 10:19 am

    Ya ll need to remember states are entitled to there own laws and when feds go to interfering with them they can be told to leave or even be arrested for interfering with local law enforcement especially a elected sheriffs dept.

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  6. bishacudaComment by bishacuda
    August 22, 2012 @ 10:35 am

    If only the Obama administration would focus on enforcing immigration laws that ARE being broken, rather than civil rights issues that MIGHT be broken. Less pandering … more enforcement? I would say one can only hope, but that hasn’t worked out so well either.

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  7. KAHR50Comment by KAHR50
    August 22, 2012 @ 10:57 am

    There is no such thing as a civil right. This is a marketing term used by liberals to press forward their immoral, big GIVErnment, dividing the people, hopium agenda.

    There are only God given inalienable rights as recognized in the Constitution of the United States of America. Recognized people, not given.

    ‘Civil rights’, having been given to the people, are subject to change and modification as necessary to deliver whatever ends those that have create them desire.

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  8. snowhawkComment by snowhawk
    August 22, 2012 @ 11:39 am

    The Justice Department?? This would be the dept led by Eric Holder charged with contempt of Congress. The same Eric Holder who should, if it were anyone else, be locked up in jail awaiting trial for his part in the murder of US Border Agent Brian Terry.
    I find it interesting that they use the word immigration here when in fact this issue has to do with criminals that have committed a crime against the American People by failing to use the proper method of entering our Nation.

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  9. Donald BromsComment by Donald Broms
    August 22, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    I hope Holder’s actions are being interpreted by the American people for what they really are: a desperate attempt to bolster democrat votes come November. Holder has demonstrated contempt for our established government, it’s current laws, it’s practices. He has also proven to be reckless regarding DOJ procedure, personnel safety, and therefore the public trust. I personally think him and Obama must have something on the down-low because I can’t think of any other reason that Obama would not have fired him for the killing of Brian Terry. Well there is one other possibility, but it’s a bit of a stretch…Obama still needs him for the big one, declaration of Marshal law. Holder is the perfect candidate, for all the reasons mentioned above, to handle a hostile takeover of the people.

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  10. mvotano58Comment by mvotano58
    August 22, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

    Jesus, Joseph and Mary I am glad I live in Texas….oh wait is that the sound of goose-stepping I hear outside?

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  11. BobinmsComment by Bobinms
    August 22, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

    More retaliation.

    Just what you’d expect.

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  12. lou7Comment by lou7
    August 22, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

    Holder like Obama is a JOKE. He is anti-caucasian. God help the USA.

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  13. mercyComment by mercy
    August 22, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

    My kids http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2cGH7lzmsY&feature=plcp I’m an immigrant everyone should follow the rules especially to vote.

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  14. jenerseaComment by jenersea
    August 22, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

    More smoke and mirrors by the Obozo team to throw you off what the problems really are. If they are so concerned about the illegals they would do something about enforcing the laws on the books. Also how about their buddies with the Panthers, don’t hear a word about their racist rantings do you?

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  15. gnafuComment by gnafu
    August 22, 2012 @ 6:11 pm

    More kaka to wade through.

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  16. docfreemanComment by docfreeman
    August 23, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

    This best and fastest way to handle immigration problems is to go by the Constitution and the law. This means anyone who entered our country illegally must be returned to their country of origin and be processed by law to enter again. This would cut down on federal aid, food stamps, healthcare given to illegals.
    The Obama Administration’s plan to grant deferred action status and work authorization to illegal aliens meeting criteria similar to the DREAM Act could cost over $585 million, internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documents reveal. (Arizona Central, July 24, 2012).
    When we have over 4.8 million Americans have given up looking for work since Jan. 2009. If they had been included in the report, the unemployment rate would now stand at 11 percent, and the underemployed rate at 18 percent; all together some 28.8 million cannot find full-time work in this economy or have simply given up.
    Plus this is just another agency created by the federal government which will cost a fortune and will never be abolished. Just think of the salaries, vacation, sick days, health insurance and pensions this will cost tax payers.

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