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DOJ Official Worried About 'Vigilante Enforcement' Of Alabama's Harsh Immigration Law


"It's been a theme thus far in our review," Perez said in a conference call. "Again kids model the behavior of adults... and there are certainly a number of disturbing reports. 'You don't belong here,' 'Go back where you came from.'"

DOJ's Perez is in charge of the Civil Rights Division and is visiting Alabama to chat with community leaders, civil rights organizations and families affected by the new immigration law.

House Bill 56 forces police and various government officials to question an individual's legal status if they have "reasonable suspicion" that a person is in the country illegally. As the New York Times reported, the law has already driven many illegal immigrants and Latino residents out of the Alabama.

A federal judge upheld key parts of the law, which was modeled after Arizona's law and passed back in April. The Justice Department is appealing.

Perez also said that officials were getting reports of illegal immigrants not going to the police if they were a victim of a crime because they were worried about getting arrested due to their legal status.

The Huffington Post's Elise Foley reported that Perez and other DOJ officials made a surprise appearance at a forum in Birmingham on Thursday night, where they told attendees to report civil rights violations in wake of the law.

"I never thought I'd be hanging out with the FBI and the Department of Justice so much, but they're on our side," Birmingham community organizer Helen Rivas told the HuffPost.