On November 18, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced its intent to investigate the effect of various state anti-illegal immigration statutes on the civil rights of alleged targets of those laws. A unanimous vote taken at the eight-member group’s most recent business meeting was the spark that ignited the flames of interest in this issue. The primary focus of the investigation will be the effect of the relevant laws recently enacted in South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia.
The chairman of the commission, Martin Castro, explained the purpose of the inquiry:
I believe that the enactment of these state immigration enforcement laws presents a pressing national civil rights issue that affects immigrants and US 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.
The probe will begin in this trio of southern states where the impact of the new laws has increased the number of “hate crimes” committed against immigrant populations (illegal or naturalized), given rise to instances of racial profiling by law enforcement, or resulted in a denial of equal protection of foreign-born defendants in state court proceedings. The commission will look for other potential abrogations of civil rights, as well, including the access to public education afforded to children of illegal immigrants.
During a hearing to be convened next year, witnesses will be called to testify before the commission as to examples of discrimination experienced in cities throughout the states in question.
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