BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The Justice Department is establishing a civil rights unit in Alabama after the state's crackdown on illegal immigration raised broader concerns about compliance with federal laws.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Perez said Tuesday it's the tenth such unit in locations around the country. The nearest is in Memphis, Tenn.

Perez said the move is meant to ensure that the federal government has a continuing eye on civil rights issues in Alabama, which was a hotbed of unrest during the civil rights movement 50 years ago

The U.S. Attorney for north Alabama, Joyce Vance, says concerns and public meetings after the state passed a strict anti-illegal immigration law last year showed the need for the unit. It has a core of five lawyers in Birmingham and Huntsville.

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