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Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice Says U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision Is Major Blow to Anti-Immigrant Laws

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Monday, The Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ) is celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s controversial anti-illegal immigration law.  The group said that the decision “is a major blow to anti-immigration legislation across the country including Alabama’s own notorious law, HB 56.”  The Supreme Court ruling struck down three out of four provisions in Arizona’s law as unconstitutional because they are preempted by federal law.  The Supreme Court upheld only one of the four provisions in the lawsuit.

Isabel Rubio is the Executive Director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama and is a member of the Steering Committee of the ACIJ.  Director Rubio said, “While we’re largely satisfied with today’s historic ruling, we are still very concerned that the Supreme Court upheld the “papers please” provision.  Here in Alabama a similar “papers please” provision was implemented last fall, so we speak from experience when we say this type of policy can lead to racial profiling of Americans just because they have an accent or a different skin color.  This goes against our constitutional and civil rights.”

Shay Farley is the legal director of Alabama Appleseed and is a member of the ACIJ steering committee. Mr. Farley said, “Today’s Supreme Court decision overwhelmingly affirms that the federal government’s authority over immigration matters is both supreme and exclusive.  The ruling is decisive and clear: states do not have the authority to create and enforce their own immigration laws.  This decision strikes at the core of HB 56.”

The Arizona’s law was used as a model for HB 56, the Beason Hammons Alabama Taxpayer and Citizens Protection Act.  HB 56 is being challenged in lawsuits brought by the Obama Justice Department and various civil rights groups, including the ACIJ.  The case is currently in the 11th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals while the Appeals Court was waiting for the Supreme Court’s ruling on SB 1070.  Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said that Monday’s decision on the Arizona Law will have an an impact on the Alabama case.  The ACIJ also acknowledged that Monday’s ruling will eventually have some impact on the Alabama cased.  They said though that it doesn’t resolve all the issues specific to Alabama which are being challenged in court.  The 11th Circuit Court will have to interpret how the Supreme Court’s ruling applies to Alabama’s anti-illegal immigration law.

In their statement the ACIJ said, “On the one provision the Supreme Court allowed to stand, the so-called “show me your papers” provision, they did so with significant concerns about its constitutionality once in practice, saying “Detaining individuals solely to verify their immigration status would raise constitutional concerns.”  The wording of the ruling sets up possible challenges to that provision based on how the provision is actually implemented.

The combination of President Obama’s recent amnesty for most illegal immigrant under the age of 30 and Monday’s Court decision appear to have been major setbacks for conservative groups that have made stopping illegal immigration an important goal on their political agenda.

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The Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice held a series of prayer vigils all over the state of Alabama Sunday praying for a verdict in the Arizona case that would be helpful for their cause.  It appears that they may have gotten their wish from the Court on Monday.

For more information about the ACIJ visit their website:




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Written By

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.


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