Federal appeals court blocks (parts of) Alabama immigration law

The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on Oct. 14 temporarily blocked portions of a controversial Alabama immigration law. The ruling came in response to a motion filed last week by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and a coalition of immigrants rights groups after a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama twice refused to block the law from taking effect. The appeals court granted the DoJ’s motion to block Section 28, which requires immigration status checks of public school students, and Section 10, which makes it a misdemeanor for an undocumented resident not to have immigration papers. The appeals court refused to block provisions that require police to check the immigration status of suspected undocumented aliens, bar state courts from enforcing contracts involving undocumented immigrants and make it a felony for undocumented immigrants to enter into a “business transaction” or apply for a driver’s license. The injunction will remain in effect until the Eleventh Circuit hears oral arguments and issues a ruling on the constitutional questions presented by the case.

The state of Alabama responded to the DoJ’s motion earlier this week, arguing that the law is not preempted by federal law and that it is necessary to address the problem of illegal immigrants “taking jobs away from United States citizens and authorized aliens who desperately want to work in these hard economic times.”

From Jurist, Oct. 14. Used with permission.

See our last post on the struggle in Alabama.

  1. Latin countries challenge South Carolina immigration law
    Sixteen Latin American, Caribbean and South American governments have filed supporting briefs in a lawsuit by the US Department of Justice challenging South Carolina’s newly adopted immigration law. The briefs contend that the new law will “impede effective and consistent diplomatic relations,” and encourage “an imminent threat of state-sanctioned bias or discrimination” of their citizens. The briefs request that the court “preliminarily enjoin SB 20, and declare it unconstitutional in its entirety.” The DoJ complaint claims that the new legislation—which allows police officers to check a suspect’s immigration status during a lawful stop, seizure, detention or arrest, and requires businesses to participate in the E-Verify system—creates a patchwork of state and local immigration policies that conflict with the policies and principles of the federal government. The department is requesting an injunction barring certain portions of the state law that would take effect on Jan. 1.The governments that filed briefs are: Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. (Jurist Nov. 9)

    Similar legal struggles are now underway in Alabama, Georgia and several other states.

  2. DOJ to establish civil rights unit in Alabama
    The US Department of Justice announced on Aug. 21 that it will establish a civil rights unit in Alabama  in the wake of the state’s contentious immigration law, HB 56, raising concerns about compliance with federal law. In the speech, Assistant US Attorney General Thomas Perez  argued that Alabama’s immigration law threatened the rights of undocumented immigrants as well as the children of these immigrants. In addition to immigration matters, Perez stated  that the civil rights unit would deal with issues such as fair housing, police brutality and compliance with federal laws concerning protection of minorities. In the speech, Perez announced that the civil rights unit would advance the principles of equal opportunity, basic rights and protection of society’s most vulnerable members.

    From Jurist, Aug. 22. Used with permission.