By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama’s U.S. Senators, Richard Shelby (R) and Jeff Sessions (R) as well as Alabama Congressmen Spencer Bachus (R), Mo Brooks (R), Robert Aderholt (R), Mike Rogers (R), Jo Bonner (R), and Congresswoman Martha Roby (R) signed a letter prepared by Senator Jeff Sessions that was sent to Secretary Janet Napolitano. Sec. Napolitano heads the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for President Barack H. Obama. The letters was protesting the decision by the Obama administration to delay implementation of the Security Communities Program in the state of Alabama.
All the Republican members of Alabama’s Senate and Congressional delegation wrote: “We write to express our serious concerns about the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to suspend implementation of the Secure Communities Program in the 30 remaining counties in Alabama. As you have noted, “Secure Communities is an “effective tool to identify and remove dangerous criminals who pose a threat to public safety.” We are certain that you would agree that the program is also an efficient use of Federal and State Resources to combat illegal immigration and has proven invaluable to law enforcement agencies across the country. For these reasons, it is critical that every county in Alabama participate in the program.”
The delegation of Alabama’s elected U.S. Senators and Representatives said in the letter that Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s personal request to Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Betsey Markey that the program be implemented throughout Alabama had been denied. The letter also said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton had received direct requests from Alabama police chiefs and sheriffs. The agency then blamed federal budgetary limitations and logistical problems for their inaction and delays throughout the fall. When confronted directly by Congressman Robert Aderholt and then by Senator Jeff Sessions’s office the Department of Homeland Security admitted they had no budget or logistical issues ; but rather were not implementing the program because of the administration’s opposition to the Alabama’s state legislature passing H.B. 56.
The administration’s explanation for the refusal to implement Secure Communities in all counties in Alabama was “Although the federal courts have enjoined several parts of H.B. 56, certain provisions were not enjoined are currently in effect…. While these provisions of Alabama’s state immigration enforcement law, which conflict with ICE’s immigration policies and programs, remain the subject of litigation, ICE does not believe it is appropriate to expand deployment of Secure Communities, one of its central enforcement programs, in Alabama.”
Alabama’s Republican Senators and Representatives called the “notion than an immigration enforcement law is somehow inconsistent with the policies and programs of the nation’s top immigration law enforcement agency”…….”dubious.” They then went on to say that Alabama is being singled out by Homeland Security. Other states with similar laws have not had the Secure Communities Program halted in their states.
The Republican delegation continued: “Your Department’s decisioon to cease assisting Alabama in the removal of dangerous illegal aliens is wholly inconsistent with this administration’s stated position of focusing on the removal of those very individuals.”
Sen. Sessions, Sen. Shelby, Rep. Brooks, Rep. Aderholt, Rep. Roby, Rep. Rogers, and Rep. Bachus finished: “There is no legitimate reason why Alabama law enforcement should be denied critical 287(g) training, or the citizens of Alabama should be denied the protection of the Secure Communities program.” “we demand that 287(g) training be made available to those State and local agencies that have requested such training, and that Secure Communities be implemented in every county in Alabama by March 15, 2012.”
Alabama H.B. 56 (the Hammon-Beason Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act) was passed in June 2011 by the Alabama legislature because the legislature believed that the federal government has a very poor record of enforcing federal immigration law in this state and elsewhere and is an effort to use Alabama law to assist federal authorities. President Obama’s administration has vigorously opposed H.B. 56 ostensibly because they claim that immigration is solely a federal power and the federal government will enforce existing federal law however the President in power at the time sees fit.
To read the letter in its entirety: