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Commentary

I was in court with Barbara Anderson Young this week when three of the white teens who beat, ran over and killed her brother last June in a Mississippi parking lot pleaded guilty to murder and hate crimes. Those three now face life sentences in prison.

Immigration Law is Reminder of the Past

03/21/2012

On April 25, 1963, my father, Robert F. Kennedy, then the U.S. attorney general, came to Alabama to ask Gov. George Wallace to stop discriminating against black people. That morning, Wallace raised the Confederate battle flag over the Capitol, where he and my father would meet. His answer would be "no."

George Zimmerman appears to have concluded that young Trayvon Martin was "suspicious" based on nothing more than his race and the fact that Trayvon was walking in Zimmerman's neighborhood. Sadly, such assumptions are made about black youth every day. And they play out in a million disastrous ways.

Marchers from across the country came to Montgomery, Ala., recently to rally at the state Capitol. It was the culmination of a march that began in Selma days earlier, retracing the steps of the historic 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march.

Every day, SPLC attorneys see how school districts are cutting short the futures of countless students through harsh, “zero-tolerance” policies. Now, a new U.S. Department of Education (DOE) study reveals what we have known for some time.

Florida Juveniles Do Not Belong in Adult Jails

02/17/2012

In 2011, the Florida legislature passed a law that set juvenile justice back 40 years. The law, known as SB 2112, allows sheriffs to house young people in adult jails without the protections developed over the years for children in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

With a new year upon us, many state legislatures across the country will be convening. Some may attempt to follow in the steps of Alabama by passing harsh, anti-immigrant legislation. Before they do, they should remember Alabama.

Georgia continues to unjustly target immigrants through shameful and un-American tactics. Those tactics are illuminated by new regulations proposed by the state’s Immigration Enforcement Review Board (IERB) – rules that propel the state further in the wrong direction.

In Jacksonville, Fla., 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez is facing charges of homicide and aggravated child abuse in the adult criminal justice system. If convicted, Cristian will receive the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A polarized Congress seems unlikely to come to grips with the nation’s immigration issues in a comprehensive way any time soon, even as states like Alabama, Arizona and Georgia enact their own, unconstitutional laws to punish undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, though, there is one federal enforcement proposal being floated that will do far more harm than good – by requiring prison time for virtually all immigration offenses.