Federal Judge Blocks Controversial Alabama Immigration Law

by admin on September 6, 2011

Last Monday, a federal judge ruled to temporarily block Alabama’s new law singling out illegal immigrants. U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Blackburn stated that she needed more time to assess the law and its constitutionality, especially given the intense opposition to the law voiced by the Obama Administration, immigrant-rights groups and church leaders. The law was due to take effect on Thursday, September 1st. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

The law has been deemed the toughest proposed immigration legislation in the United States. Its opponents compare it to old Jim Crow-era laws promoting racial segregation, while its supporters claim the law will help solve the growing problem of immigrants working in Alabama illegally.

Judge Blackburn stated that more time is needed to adequately examine the lawsuits filed by the US Justice Department, as well as other individuals and groups that claim the law is not constitutional and would allow the state to overreach its authority. Blackburn intends to issue a more comprehensive ruling by September 28.

Alabama joins a string of states that have already attempted to pass similar legislation, including Arizona, Utah, Georgia and Indiana. However, Federal Courts have already taken the sting out of many parts of those laws, as numerous federal judges have so far effectively blocked all or parts of the new immigration laws in the above states.

Two particularly thorny parts of the new laws in Alabama require that schools start to verify the citizenship status of students, and also criminalize any action to assist an illegal immigrant. Such actions could include knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant, providing housing for them, giving them a ride in a vehicle and various other activities. This would allow suspected illegal immigrants to be jailed by police after common traffic stops.

On Tuesday, September 06, 2011 Judge Blackburn decided to separate the cases back into three separate trials (after she originally combined the cases into one grouping for a hearing held two weeks ago). Attorneys involved with the case are hopeful that this is a sign that there will be a ruling before the end of the month.

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