Gov. Bob Riley's administration has been running criminal background checks on Hurricane Katrina evacuees living in temporary housing in Alabama's 13 state parks, a move opposed by a federal Homeland Security official...
A federal official, Michael Waters, protective security adviser in the Birmingham district of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, had opposed the background checks.
"I recommended that we not attempt to do this at all," he wrote in a Sept. 7 e-mail obtained by the Register.
No background checks were required for Hurricane Ivan evacuees from Baldwin County, Waters said.
He described the background checks as "a potentially explosive issue given the existing race/class issues that have already been raised."
Asked about those concerns, Emerson said that Ivan evacuees were primarily from Alabama, while those fleeing Katrina were from Louisiana and Mississippi.
State Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, D-Mobile, said she was not opposed to weeding out registered sex offenders. But Figures questioned why Riley "saw fit to do a background check on everybody."