The Birmingham News: The members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will meet next week with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to discuss Alabama's immigration law and how it is being enforced, according to Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.
Several Democratic members of Congress, already calling for the law to be repealed or declared unconstitutional, were in Birmingham Nov. 21 to oppose the state law that calls on local police and sheriffs to identify and detain illegal immigrants. On Capitol Hill this morning, they said the visit convinced them the law is hurting Alabama's economy and international image, and that it's tearing apart families that include U.S. citizens.
"Clearly it has created a lot less order and a lot more chaos," Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said he wants Napolitano to clarify that federal immigration officials will not begin deportation proceedings against undocumented people who have no prior criminal record. Because of limited resources, federal policy is that the first priority cases for deportation are those who have committed other crimes.
Gutierrez said he wants local law enforcement in Alabama to hear directly from federal officials that detaining undocumented people with otherwise clean records is a waste of time and effort.
"They need to hear that federal policy takes precedence over these local laws," Gutierrez said.
Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, was part of the delegation that held a public hearing in Birmingham last week.
"I'm grateful to them for shedding light on this overreaching law," Sewell said.
The Republican-led Alabama Legislature passed the law to crack down on the number of illegal immigrants in the state by helping federal officials locate them, and inhibiting their ability to work and access government services.