Federal judge dismisses key sections of AL immigration law

Federal judge dismisses key sections of AL immigration law

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama entered its final judgment Monday in the justice department's challenge to Alabama's immigration law.

The judgment permanently prohibits Alabama from enforcing what opponents considered to be among the most controversial sections of the law. In all, the state of Alabama is prohibited from enforcing seven sections of the law.

"The federal government has been making the nation safer by aggressively prosecuting and deporting criminal aliens in record numbers, and it has done so with the cooperation of our sheriffs and police departments," said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Joyce White Vance in a statement. "But H.B. 56 diverted the attention of our state and local partners from violent criminals to ordinary families."

One of the sections that won't be enforced would have required all public schools in Alabama to verify the citizenship status of all new incoming students. The 11th U.S. Court of Appeals had ruled that the section relating to schools violated the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, known as the Equal Protection Clause.

"The law forced parents to uproot their sons and daughters from their home, and it punished immigrant children for exercising their constitutional right to go to school. Today's decision marks a return to common-sense immigration law enforcement," Vance said.

Alabama's immigration law is similar to Arizona's, which was reviewed by the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court voted 5-3 to strike down several sections of the law that dealt with enforcement of federal law in relation to state law. The court held that immigration law enforcement is the job of federal authorities, and not individual states.

Law enforcement are allowed to check the citizenship status of people during routine traffic and similar stops but they must have "reasonable suspicion" under those circumstances.

The ruling from Judge Blackburn permanently dismisses several sections of the law:

 

  • A section that required legal immigrants to carry registration papers on them at all times,
  • A section that made it a crime for someone to hire illegal immigrants from off the street for any job, and
  • A section that made it illegal for an employer to hire an illegal immigrant for a job that also had applicants who were legal residents.

 

Another key section of the law voided any and all contracts between illegal immigrants and another entity.

Immigrants' rights groups, as well as the SPLC had fought the law in court since Alabama's governor signed it in the Spring of 2011. Those groups struck a deal with the state last month not to enforce the sections that Federal District Judge Sharon Blackburn dismissed Monday.

In a statement, Governor Robert Bentley's Press Secretary Jennifer Ardis said, "The essence of Alabama's immigration law is that if you live or work in Alabama, you should do so legally, and that has not changed."

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