Federal court blocks parts of Alabama immigration law
A federal court has temporarily blocked parts of Alabama’s controversial immigration law, including the requirement that state officials check the immigration status of students when enrolling in school. However, other parts of the law were allowed to stand pending a final appeal, including the requirement that law enforcement officers check the immigration status of suspects in stops or arrests whom they think may be in the country illegally.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals released the 16-page injunction on Friday in response to lawsuits filed by the U.S. Justice Department and a coalition of immigrant rights groups. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement that the ruling was “simply one more step in what we knew would be a lengthy legal process,” and he would continue to fight to see the law upheld. “As I have said on many occasions, if the federal government had done its job by enforcing its own immigration laws, we wouldn’t be here today,” Bentley said in his statement. “Unfortunately, by failing to do its job, the federal government has left the problem of dealing with illegal immigration to the states. Alabama needed a tough law against illegal immigration. We now have one.”
The court also blocked part of the law that made it a misdemeanor for immigrants to willfully fail to carry an alien registration card. However, along with allowing the law’s requirement for law enforcement officers to conduct immigration status checks on suspect individuals (a tenet the law shared with several similar state laws), the court let stand a prohibition against state courts enforcing employment contracts in which the hiring party had “direct or constructive” knowledge that the employee was in the country unlawfully. It also upheld a section making it a felony for illegal immigrants to enter into a “business transaction” in the state, including applying for a driver’s or business license.