DOJ Appeals Alabama Immigration Law Ruling

The Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act (popularly referred to as the “Alabama immigration law”) was signed by Governor Robert Bentley on June 9th, 2011 and went into effect on September 29th, 2011. The law includes some of the strictest immigration-related provisions passed by any U.S. state, which include:

  • allowing local and state law enforcement to verify the immigration status of individuals during routine traffic stops if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country illegally.
  • allowing local and state law enforcement detain without bond those they suspect are in the U.S. illegally.
  • criminalizing the failure of undocumented immigrants to carry immigration documents.
  • requiring schools to collect data on the immigration status of all students.
  • punishing undocumented immigrants from enrolling in public colleges
  • punishing undocumented workers who apply for jobs or work in the state.
  • punishing any individual who transports, harbors or shields an undocumented immigrant.

Federal District Judge Sharon Blackburn (N.D. Alabama) issued a ruling on September 28th upholding the first five provisions and blocking the final two. The Department of Justice (DOJ) appealed the ruling in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and requested that the law’s provisions should not take effect while the appeal is being decided. DOJ stated that immigration policy should be set by the federal government, not by states. It also stated that the Alabama law will negatively affect both diplomatic relations, encourage discrimination, and make enforcement of federal immigration laws nationwide more difficult. Judge Blackburn refused to stay enforcement of the law during DOJ’s appeal, stating that the government was “unlikely to prevail” on its claim. The law’s effects are already apparent. Thousands of Hispanic children have withdrawn from public schools, several towns and cities have witnessed a mass exodus of Hispanics, and farmers are concerned that their fall harvest will rot due to a lack of workers.

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