Alabama’s new immigration law, which would extend police powers to stop and search, and add new regulations for housing, transportation, employment and education, has been temporarily blocked three days before it was due to take effect.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn has barred the law’s enforcement for a thirty-day period to give legal challenges against the law enough time to be heard and considered.
Judge Blackburn will also be considering the legality of the statute in reference to unlawful detention and the impact of the law on ordinary citizens. In addition to the new requirement that police officers verify the immigration status of individuals they stop, the law will make it illegal to knowingly rent — or even give a ride — to an illegal immigrant.
In other words, were your mother an illegal immigrant, it would be against the law to drive her to the grocery store.
In additional controversial clauses, the law would require school districts to review the immigration status of newly-enrolled students, and businesses would be forced to use the federal E-Verify database to determine whether job applicants are eligible for employment.
The federal government has long maintained that only it has the power to regulate immigration: “Setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility that cannot be addressed through a patchwork of state emigration laws,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in the August press statement announcing the federal government’s lawsuit against the the Alabama measure.
In response, Alabama Attorney General John Neiman claimed that “the U.S. is advocating a dramatic and drastic expansion of power” by stripping states of any jurisdiction with regards to illegal immigration.
Despite facing cases on three fronts, (Christian clergy, ACLU and the federal government), Neiman continues to assert the right of states to police people within its borders.
Governor Robert Bentley, who signed the bill into law in June has unsurprisingly defended the law as stern, but necessary. “I look forward to the Judge ruling on the merits,” Governor Bentley said. “We have long needed a tough law against illegal immigration in this state, and we now have one. I will continue to fight at every turn to defend this law against any and all challenges.”
While Judge Blackburn’s order does not yet comment on the legality of the law, it will not be long before constitutional judgement is passed.
At this point, it seems unlikely that challenges to the nation’s toughest immigration law will go unheeded. The worst case scenario for Alabama would be if elements in the law were declared unconstitutional and the law was struck down in its entirety. The best they can hope for in this situation would be the removal of the offending clauses, bringing the law into line with those in other states.
- U.S. Judge Blocks Enforcement of Alabama Illegal-Immigration Crackdown (bloomberg.com)
- Alabama Immigration Law May Lead to Suits Over Police Checks, Judge Says (bloomberg.com)
- Judge Questions Parts of Alabama Immigration Law (progress.montgomeryadvertiser.com)
- Illegal Immigration Crackdowns Target Employers (legallyeasy.rocketlawyer.com)
- Judge Temporarily Blocks Tough Alabama Immigration Law (articles.cnn.com)
- Will Alabama’s New Immigration Law Stand? or will Businesses Stand in its Way? (legallyeasy.rocketlawyer.com)