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Alabama Immigration Law Upheld, Supreme Court Intervention Likely

Alabama Immigration Law Upheld, Supreme Court Intervention Likely


On Wednesday, Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn of the Federal District Court in Birmingham, Alabama upheld most sections of Alabama’s extreme anti-immigration law. The decision is the most supportive of the law to come out of a federal court yet.

The decision also makes it extremely likely that immigration reform will join health care reform as political battles that get decided by the Supreme Court.

Blackburn blocked several key parts of the law, but let stand some of the most controversial provisions, including those that grant law enforcement officers unprecedented power to act as immigration agents.

Of the provisions blocked include one that would have made it illegal for undocumented immigrants and other non-citizens from enrolling in Alabama public colleges and universities and one that criminalized undocumented immigrants’ attempts to look for and get a job. Several of the provisions that targeted day laborers, including those that would criminalize transporting an undocumented person were also blocked.

But Blackburn let stand a provision that forces K-12 schools to track the immigration statuses of their students and a provision that renders unenforceable any contract that an undocumented immigrant enters into. Finally, Blackburn refused to enjoin provisions that grant law enforcement the power to question and detain anyone who they have a “reasonable suspicion” to believe may be undocumented.

Blackburn’s entire argument is grounded in a state’s rights approach. If Congress failed to specifically deal with an area of immigration law–such as the enforceability of contracts–then states should have the power to make those laws themselves. Those provisions enjoined were those she believed Congress had dealt with specifically.

Alabama is the fifth state to enact a law modeled after Arizona’s SB 1070, but the only one to have key provisions upheld. So far judges in Utah, Indiana and Georgia have had similar provisions blocked while the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court’s injunction of that law.

This comes as the Obama administration announced it was stepping up its crackdown on these kinds of anti-immigrant laws. Justice Department attorneys are reportedly considering legal challenges in Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina as they try to get Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform.

But Republicans may have other motives for blocking immigration reform. These laws, and the crackdowns that follow, have been a boon for the private prison industry. Private prison companies control half of the detention beds in the United States, and with detentions and deportations swelling under the new criminalization, business is too good for Republicans to support humane immigration reform.


Related Stories:

Federal Appeals Court Rules Prolonged Detention of Immigrants Unconstitutional/a>

Alabama Immigration Law Put On Hold

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Photo from steakpinball via flickr.

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9:41PM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

Interesting article and comments, thank you.

9:41PM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

Interesting article and comments, thank you.

4:31AM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

That's a pretty broad brush you paint 'the south' with Robyn O. Unfortunately, mean-spirited people exist eveywhere. Actually, it seems as though you are suggeting something like a border...THAT'S IT!! problem solved, just move the border from the Rio Grande to the Mason-Dixon line.

4:44AM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

Didn't crops rot in the fields in Georgia last year? I remember seeing news stories about framers unable to harvest their crops and get them to market. Wouldn't that mean no money for the framer and higher prices at the market?

As fot Obama and the Democrates, they pasted the Dream Act in the House, and got 55 votes in the Senate. Sadly, 55 votes wasn't enough in the face of the GOP filibuster. So Romney is lying when he says the Democrates haven't done anything. It's just that the majority isn't enough anymore.

9:55AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Vince..... believe me MANY MANY people on welfare would be dancing in the streets over the chance to work and pay taxes........................ it is just that soooo many places own the jobs and the housing.... they want to pay minimum wage for the job.... and set the rent on the housing so you must work 60 hours a week to cover just rent..... not food and heat....... That is just how it is in my city

9:50AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

I have had it...... the Republicans will not allow anything to pass unless they get paid by their owner (Koch) to pass that specific bill......... yet the republican lackeys here claim that it is OBAMA who is blocking ANY progress in this country. The RNC has made the statement publicly that they do not care if the country goes to hell, their ONLY concern is to prevent ANY PROGRESS while there is a black man in the white house.

9:15AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

What is White Pride World Wide??? They seem to have a lot of statistics!!!

9:13AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

What is White Pride World Wide??? They seem to have a lot of statistics!!!

9:11AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

What is White Pride World? They seem to have a lot of statistics!

8:46AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Most statistics come from made up chain emails by right wing bigots who hate everyone that is not a bigot like they are!

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