On Wednesday, a federal judge upheld most of Alabama’s far-reaching immigration law that the Obama administration had challenged.
The decision by Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn makes it more likely that the fate of the recent state laws against illegal immigration will be decided by the Supreme Court. It also means that Alabama has the strictest immigration law in the country.
The judge issued a preliminary injunction against several sections of the law, agreeing they preëmpted federal law. She blocked a provision that outlawed harboring or transporting illegal immigrants and one barring illegal immigrants from enrolling in or attending public universities.
The governor, in a statement, said he believed even the sections that were temporarily enjoined would eventually be upheld.
The judge upheld a section that requires state and local law enforcement officials to try to verify a person’s immigration status during routine traffic stops or arrests, if “a reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is in the country illegally, rejecting the reasoning of district and appeals courts that blocked similar portions of Arizona’s law. Legal experts expected the Justice Department to appeal.
The Alabama law was the latest and broadest of the state laws against illegal immigration.
Alabama has a small population of people in the country illegally, but the numbers are growing.
Acting on a pledge to crack down on illegal immigration, Republicans passed the bill when they won a supermajority in the State Legislature in the 2010 elections. Mr. Bentley signed it into law in June.
Farmers and the state agriculture commissioner raised concerns about the law’s effect on farms, sheriffs condemned it as too financially onerous, and others worry it could seriously hinder the state’s efforts to rebuild after last April’s tornadoes.
The law’s backers argue that most concerns arose out of an intentional misreading of the law.
Among the other sections Judge Blackburn upheld:
- one that nullifies contracts entered into by an illegal immigrant;
- one that forbids transactions between illegal immigrants and any division of the state, which led to the denial of a Montgomery man’s application for water and sewage service; and,
- one that requires public schools to determine the immigration status of incoming students.
- Much of Alabama’s Immigration Law Upheld (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Judge backs key parts of Alabama immigration law (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- You: Federal judge upholds key parts of Alabama immigration law seen as toughest in nation (washingtonpost.com)