The US Commission on Civil Rights [official website] announced on Tuesday that it will examine the impact that state-enacted immigration enforcement laws have on individual civil rights. The announcement stems from a unanimous vote [press release] taken at the Commission's most recent business meeting. Following the vote, Martin Castro, Commission Chairman, stated, "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 Commission will start by focusing its efforts on the laws in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina in an attempt to determine whether these laws have resulted in increasing hate crimes or instances of racial profiling, among other civil rights violations.
Each of the state-enacted immigration laws has faced various legal challenges. Earlier this month, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a brief [JURIST report] in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] urging the court to strike down Alabama's immigration law [HB 56 text]. The DOJ filed its brief in response to a federal judge's September 28 ruling [opinion text] that allowed the state to enforce a provision that makes it a felony for an illegal alien to conduct business with the state, among other provisions. Also this month, the DOJ urged [JURIST report] the US Supreme Court [official website] not to hear Arizona's appeal of a decision [opinion, PDF] enjoining four provisions of the state's controversial immigration law [SB 1070 materials; JURIST news archive]. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] upheld an injunction in April before the law ever took effect, and Arizona is now asking the high court [JURIST reports] to address whether the state law is preempted by federal immigration legislation. While the state maintains that the Ninth Circuit incorrectly concluded that the state law was facially preempted and "declined to determine whether there were constitutional applications" of the Arizona immigration legislation, the DOJ insists the court properly blocked [AP report] the provisions.