Parts of Ala. immigration law enforceable

Sept. 29, 2011 at 11:01 AM   |   0 comments

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Sept. 29 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Birmingham, Ala., ruled key portions of the state's sweeping immigration law could go into effect while blocking others.

In her 115-page ruling issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn said the U.S. Justice Department, which argued federal immigration laws pre-empted state laws, didn't meet requirements for an injunction in several areas, the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser reported.

Provisions Blackburn ruled could be enforced include:

-- Criminalizing being in Alabama unlawfully or to not carry proper documentation.

-- Allowing law enforcement, during an encounter in the course of their duties, to detain people they have "reasonable suspicion" of being in the country illegally.

-- Requiring schools to collect information on students' immigration status.

-- Forbidding state and local agencies from doing business with undocumented aliens.

-- Voiding contracts with unlawful aliens.

-- Requiring police to take drivers with licenses that can't be verified to a magistrate to determine immigration status. If found to be unlawful, detainees can be held until prosecution or until they are turned over to federal authorities.

The provisions Blackburn blocked include one that makes it a crime to willfully harbor or conceal undocumented immigrants and another provision that makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work in the state.

In another decision, Blackburn blocked provisions barring undocumented students from enrolling in post-secondary educational institutions and making it unlawful to block traffic to transport someone to work, the Advertiser said.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange called the ruling a "victory for Alabama."

"Clearly, the court decided this difficult case on the basis of a thoughtful and through analysis," Strange said in a statement. "Rejecting the unduly restrictive approach taken by other courts around the country, the court today vindicated Alabama's right to take action to address this issue in the manner its people, through their elected representatives, see fit."

Strange said his office was "weighing its options" concerning the parts of the law that were enjoined.

Linton Joaquin, general counsel for the National Immigration Law Center, which represented plaintiffs who sought the injunction, said the plaintiffs would appeal the judge's decision, arguing the federal government had a "clearly delineated role" in enforcing immigration law, the Advertiser reported.

"Overall, we're very disappointed," he said. "We think this is a flawed ruling."

The U.S. Justice Department said in a statement it was evaluating what to do next.

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