Monday, August 1, 2011

Alabama Immigration Law: Obama Administration Files Lawsuit To Block Measure

WASHINGTON(Reuters) - The Obama administration Monday sued to block enforcement of Alabama's new immigration law, widely considered to be the toughest measure in the United States to try to crack down on illegal immigrants. The law, known as H.B. 56, was signed by Republican Governor Robert Bentley in June and is due to take effect on Sept. 1. Civil rights groups brought a separate lawsuit challenging the law about a month ago.

``If allowed to go into effect, H.B. 56's enforcement scheme will conflict with and undermine the federal government's careful balance of immigration enforcement priorities and objectives,'' administration lawyers said. ``The scheme will cause the detention and harassment of authorized visitors, immigrants, and citizens who do not have or carry identification documents specified by the statute, or who otherwise will be swept into the ambit of H.B. 56's enforcement-at-all-costs approach,'' according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Alabama. The administration argued that federal law preempted the state from adopting its own immigration regime and would interfere with the federal immigration system. There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States... Attempts to overhaul federal immigration policy have gone nowhere in the U.S. Congress. Besides Alabama, Georgia, Arizona, Utah and Indiana are defending new immigration laws in federal court. The Obama administration successfully sued to block Arizona's tough law last year.

``Today's action makes clear that setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility that cannot be addressed through a patchwork of state immigration laws,'' Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. Alabama's law requires public schools to determine, by reviewing birth certificates or sworn affidavits, the legal residency status of students upon enrollment. Police must also detain someone they suspect of being in the United States illegally if the person cannot produce proper documentation when stopped for any reason. That is similar to the Arizona law blocked by the courts from taking effect. The Alabama law also would be a crime to knowingly transport or harbor someone who is in the country illegally.

The law also imposes penalties on businesses that knowingly employ someone without legal resident status, and a company's business license could be suspended or revoked. A similar Arizona law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in May.The Alabama law also requires businesses to use a database called E-Verify to confirm the immigration status of new employees.


C. Walker said...

First time to the blog but I have to say I love the content and layout. Keep up the good work spreading information regarding immigration.

Vicente Duque said...

POLITICO.COM : "To put it in terms we relate to here in Alabama, you can only have one quarterback in a football game. In immigration, the federal government is the quarterback", U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said, according to the Birmingham News.

DOJ sues Alabama over quintessentially Alabaman law - The Beauty of Intellectual and Historical Backwardness -

DOJ sues Ala. over immigration law
August 2, 2011

Some excerpts :

Attorney General Eric Holder, in a statement released by the Justice Department, said states cannot set their own immigration laws.

“Today’s action makes clear that setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility that cannot be addressed through a patchwork of state immigration laws,” Holder said. “The department is committed to evaluating each state immigration law and making decisions based on the facts and the law. To the extent we find state laws that interfere with the federal government’s enforcement of immigration law, we are prepared to bring suit, as we did in Arizona.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups filed a joint suit last month arguing, like the federal government, that the Alabama law unlawfully claims federal immigration authority for the state.

The civil rights groups also said the state law violates the Fourth Amendment’s search-and-seizure provisions, deters immigrants from enrolling their children in public schools and unlawfully forbids legal immigrants from attending state colleges and universities.

And also Monday, a coalition of Alabama religious leaders filed another separate suit challenging the law, saying it “”makes it a crime to follow God’s command to be Good Samaritans.”

That suit claims the state’s “bishops have reason to fear that administering of religious sacraments, which are central to the Christian faith, to known undocumented persons may be criminalized under this law,” according to the Birmingham News.

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