The U.S. Justice Department is keeping a close eye on Alabama's controversial immigration law.
HB 56 requires law enforcement to check a suspect's immigration status. Some argue enforcing the law could lead to racial profiling.
To prevent racial profiling, the U.S. Justice Department sent a letter to Alabama sheriffs and police chiefs saying in part, "It is critical that you develop policies and develop systems of accountability to ensure that your enforcement of this law does not result in the unlawful stopping, questioning, searching, detaining, or arresting of persons in violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, or in the targeting of racial of ethnic minorities in a manner that violates the Fourteenth Amendment."
The letter also warns Alabama law enforcement that their federal funding would be cut if they do discriminate based on HB 56. "It's just been bad all the way around," says Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale. Hale says if his department loses federal funding they will lose all the money they use for capital improvement projects.
Hale is also concerned about training his officers to enforce the immigration law. Hale says a federal judge has mandated officers get four weeks of training. Right now, officers are only getting 4 hours of training provided by the state. Because of this, Hale has a message for lawmakers who supported HB 56, "If you really want us to do it, you need to cough up and supply the funding to support our operation.... at least in training and the other associated costs like incarceration."
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