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Immigrant Supporters Cheer Eleventh Circuit Ruling

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Monday, the 11th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals blocked many of the provisions in Alabama and Georgia’s anti-illegal immigration laws. The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alabama, the ACLU of Georgia, the Asian Law Caucus, the Asian American Justice Center, MALDEF, Latino Justice PRLDEF, and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released a joint written statement to announce their satisfaction with the HB56 provisions which were overturned with Monday’s ruling.

The executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, Marielena Hincapié said, “Today’s decisions send a strong message that state attempts to criminalize immigrants and their loved ones will not be tolerated.” “Alabamian children can now start the new school year without fear that their citizenship will be questioned, and Georgians can continue to give neighbors and friends a ride without first asking for their “papers.” Although we are disappointed that the racial profiling provisions of Alabama and Georgia’s law have not been blocked, we will continue to fight them both within and outside the courtroom.”

The senior staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, Omar Jadwat said: “The court today rejected many parts of Alabama and Georgia’s anti-immigrant laws, including attempts to criminalize everyday interactions with undocumented immigrants and Alabama’s callous attempt to deprive some children of their constitutional right to education. The court explicitly left the door open to further challenges against the “show me your papers” provision, which we will continue to fight in order to protect people’s constitutional rights.”

The legal director of the SPLC, Mary Bauer said, “We are pleased that this ruling has sent a strong message to Alabama and other states that they cannot enact hate-filled laws to try to drive an entire class of people from their borders, We are thrilled that students returning to schools this week will return to safer and more welcoming environments. We will continue to challenge the provisions left in place because, as we have already seen in Alabama, these laws cannot be enforced without racial profiling.”

The 11th Circuit ruled that section 28 which required schools to ask parents about the legal residency status of students upon school registration was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and could potentially interfere with illegal alien children’s right to get an education. Today’s rulings also struck down provisions which made transporting or harboring illegal aliens a state crime.

The Supreme Court had ruled in the Arizona case that the provision which allowed law enforcement to ask for your identification was constitutional and both the Georgia and Alabama rulings on Monday upheld the “show me your papers” provisions of HB 56 and HB 87. However state and local government has no authority to fine or jail illegal aliens under state law as the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that the states have no constitutional authority to regulate immigration as federal law has supremacy over state law. The groups’ written statement said that the Monday ruling leaves open the possibility of future challenges on civil rights or due process grounds.

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Passing a state anti-illegal immigration law was a major plank of the various Alabama Tea Party groups in the 2010 election. Republicans won control of both Houses of the Alabama legislature in 2010 with massive Tea Party support. Republicans, led by state Senator Scott Beason (R) from Gardendale and state Rep. Mickey Hammon (R) from Decatur passed HB56, which was the strictest anti-illegal immigration law in the country, in the 2011 legislative session.

Barack Obama’s Department of Justice then sued Alabama as well as other states which had passed anti-illegal immigration laws.

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

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