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Jay Town, one of the three Trump administration-appointed U.S. attorneys for Alabama, indicates there should be no mystery about his priorities in the Northern District of Alabama. They closely align with those outlined by the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he said.
“I think that General Sessions and the department made it very clear before I was sworn what the priorities of the department and, especially the criminal division, were,” Town said. “So, it’s guns, it’s dope, it’s illegal immigration, it is opioids. And we are executing those priorities very well.
“We recently released our fiscal ’17 numbers, and in all of those areas we had very robust numbers in terms of our prosecutions last year in comparison to the previous year and years.”
Town’s jurisdiction is centered in Birmingham, the state’s most populous city in its largest metro area, and encompasses the Huntsville-Madison County area, a hub of U.S. government work.
His office’s priorities reflect some of the problems endemic to this part of the state. Town said that, while priorities are shared among the 93 U.S. attorneys, “The way we are executing them, perhaps, is a little different.”
Lipscomb Elementary School, tucked away on a quiet neighborhood street, does not draw a lot of attention to itself. Its enrollment numbers, however, show a dramatic story of Alabama’s growing Hispanic population.
The school in the Jefferson County school system is a plain red-brick complex near Bessemer, Birmingham and Brighton and Midfield. It serves grades K-5, and is a Title I school. That means most of its students are from low-income families and need additional resources, primarily in math and English, so they can learn on the same level as their better-off counterparts elsewhere in the system.
Fifteen years ago, Lipscomb had 188 students, most of them black, with a handful of whites. Today it has 254 students, and the enrollment is almost evenly split among Hispanics and blacks. Most of the Hispanic students are U.S.-born, mostly of Mexican heritage, and about 80 of them are taking English as a Second Language classes.
Reflecting the growing Hispanic presence in its classrooms and hallways, Lipscomb held Hispanic heritage month from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 last year. During that month, the children danced and sampled food prepared by parents of some of their fellow students; each classroom did research on a Spanish-speaking country south of the border.
Lipscomb recently observed Black History Month, and principal Reta Hayes says its chief lesson was “that even though we may be all of different cultures, and (though) we may be of different colors overall, we are still one big happy family.”
Different cultures and colors have been a growing fact of life in Alabama public schools in recent decades. Enrollment figures from the state Department of Education for the current academic year show nearly 727,000 students in K-12, a decline of 11 percent over last year due to a drop in both white and black enrollment. Statewide Hispanic/Latino numbers, however, showed an increase, rising 6 percent over last year to total 57,817, or about 8 percent of the total K-12 enrollment. In 2000-01, the K-12 Hispanic total was 9,541, or about 16 percent of the current figure.
They’re voters, for sure. But I’ve told people in my campaign, “Don’t expect me to pass a litmus test for one side or the other.” I continue to get asked, “Are you liberal, conservative, moderate, progressive, what?” And I say, “Don’t label me! I’m Doug, and I’m going to vote the way I feel. I’m certainly not going to pass the far left’s litmus test any more than I’m going to pass the far right’s litmus tests. Read more.
Alabama legislators kick-started their session last week, with committees approving bills on abortion, sanctuary campuses and death penalty sentences, among other topics. Those bills could go to the floor of the House or Senate this week.
The governor’s recommendations for the General Fund and Education Trust Fund budgets also were introduced last week but have yet to come up for a vote. Read more.
WASHINGTON – Alabama’s senators, Republican Richard Shelby and Democrat Doug Jones, were united this week on nominees who went to the Senate for confirmation. Here’s a breakdown of the votes during the week ending Aug. 31. Read more.
WASHINGTON – Alabama’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives split along party lines when voting on a Republican statement of opposition to a tax on the use of coal, natural gas and petroleum products.
All three are produced in different areas of Alabama, but the state also has had to grapple with pollution caused by the production and use of fossil fuels. The House approved the Republican statement opposing the tax, which was a nonbinding statement expressing the House’s opinion on the issue.
Here’s how area members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending July 20. Read more.
Thousands of unaccompanied minors remain detained a week out from the deadline for the Trump administration to reunite children with their parents.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement says 453 children have been resettled in Alabama this year through April. It isn’t known how many since then. Children released from detention are placed into foster care shelters or with relatives who are approved as sponsors.
The problem is, many relatives are afraid to come forward to take in these children. That’s because they’re required to disclose their immigration status to private resettlement agencies and the Department of Homeland Security.
Isabel Rubio, director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, says relatives are still worried. “People are concerned that if their information is sent to the Department of Homeland Security that they are at higher risk for deportation because now immigration knows exactly who they are and where they live.”
Read more coverage on immigration:
Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Find Foster Homes in Alabama
Some Immigrant Children Being Reunited With Families
Separating Immigrant Families Violates Country’s ‘Belief of Faith and Family,” Jones Says
Amid Immigration Controversy, More Hispanic Students Arrive in Alabama Classrooms
Federal officials have placed 2,729 unaccompanied immigrant children in Alabama since 2015, with most finding foster homes in Jefferson, Marshall, Morgan and Tuscaloosa counties.
Of those, 453 found foster homes in Alabama this year through April, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. Information on how many children have been settled in the state since April – including during the recent separation of families as part of a zero-tolerance policy – is not yet available.
In fact, little information is publicly known about the children after they are placed. Read more.
Sixteen unaccompanied Latino children separated from their families as part of the border patrol’s zero tolerance policy were scheduled to be reunited with their parents Sunday.
The children will join 522 other children who have been reunited with their families, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. The 16 were scheduled to be reunited Friday, but weather affected travel, and officials said Saturday night that the children were to be reunited with their families “within the next 24 hours.”
There remain “a small number of children who were separated for reasons other than zero tolerance that will remain separated,” according to the press release from Homeland Security. Read more.