It took her more than 100 pages, but a Birmingham federal judge has ruled much of Alabama’s tough new immigration law passed her litmus test. The U.S. Justice Department, a group of civil rights organizations and others had filed suit to block the 74-page law.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn Wednesday took issue with other federal judges that blocked similar laws in Georgia and Arizona. Her interpretation of federal law was states could play a role in immigration enforcement.
Blackburn’s ruling is expected to be appealed. It was not a total win for either side.
She did block state efforts to bar illegal immigrants from enrolling in public universities.
She blocked two new traffic laws making it a crime to block traffic to hire workers on a street.
She also said the state cannot:
– Stop an “unauthorized alien” from seeking work
– Prosecute people helping unauthorized aliens. That includes the section of the law aimed at landlords
– Stop businesses from deducting from their state taxes the wages paid to illegal aliens
– Allow workers fired or not hired in favor of unauthorized aliens to sue employers for discrimination
– Criminalize the harboring, transporting and encouraging of illegal immigrants. That was a concern of religious leaders.
Among the provisions she did allow were:
– Provisions making it a felony for an illegal alien to apply for a license plate, driver’s license, business license or other business license
– Police stops involving people suspected of being in the country illegally
– Requirements that schools check the citizenship of children
– The nullification of contracts knowingly created with illegal aliens
It is expected both sides of the lawsuits will appeal Blackburn’s ruling.
Similar laws passed in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana and Utah are also being challenged in federal courts.
Decatur Representative Micky Hammon, a sponsor of the Alabama law says was aimed to “attack every area of an illegal alien’s life.”
Governor Robert Bentley says even the stripped down version of the law is the ”strongest” immigration law in the country.
“Today is a victory for Alabama. The court agreed with us on a majority of the provisions that were challenged. During my campaign, I promised a tough law against illegal immigration, and we now have one.”
He called the new law constitutional.
“This fight is just beginning. I am optimistic that this law will be completely upheld, and I remain committed to seeing this law fully implemented,” Bentley said in a statement.
He said he would work with Attorney General Luther Strange. The Attorney General also issued a statement.
“We respectfully disagree with those parts of the orders that have enjoined portions of the law. We have the right to take an immediate appeal of those parts of the orders or we could wait to appeal until the Court has made a final decision. We are currently weighing our options.”
Law enforcement around the state now have to decide, do they try to enforce the law, or wait until a higher court makes a ruling. The Huntsville Police Chief says it will take lawyers and the state AG to take care of this issue.
At the same time the judge was ruling on he case, federal agents launched a huge nationwide round-up of more than 2,900 illegal aliens. They say 51 were in Alabama.
ICE announced the arrests included:
– A 40-year-old Guatemalan man living in Opelika convicted of aggravated battery
– A 36-year-old Guatemalan man living in Fort Payne after being convicted of burglary and domestic violence
– A 39-year-old Mexican man living in Tuscaloosa after being convicted of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance and chemical endangerment of a child.