Traffic Stop
A federal court has blocked enforcement of a portion of Alabama law that requires police to check immigration status during traffic stops. Image: Flickr / Highway Patrol Images / CC-BY

Alabama is the most recent state to enact very strict immigration control. Today, a few days after the law went into effect, an appeals court has issued a temporary injunction against portions of the law. The larger constitutional questions of the law, however, could take months to address.

Portions of Alabama law blocked

The Alabama immigration law is an extensive document that covers everything from police powers to school registrations. The 16-page decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta blocks some, but not all portions of the law. The state will be allowed to carry out enforcement of some sections of the law, including provisions that:

  • Require police to try and determine immigration status of anyone that is “lawfully” stopped or arrested for any reason.
  • Make any business transaction a felony crime if it includes an illegal immigrant.
  • Prevents courts from upholding a contract of any kind if it includes an illegal immigrant.

Other portions of the immigration law, however, have been blocked from enforcement until the law as a whole can be considered by higher courts. These provisions includes ones that:

  • Require public educational institutions to check the immigration status of all students.
  • Require immigrants to carry their alien registration card or be charged with a felony

Multiple lawsuits filed

The lawsuit upon which the circuit court issued the injunction is just one of many that have been filed against the Alabama immigration law. The ACLU, several individual church groups and the U.S. Justice Department have all filed lawsuits against the immigration law. Each of these lawsuits approaches the law from a different side, but essentially the lawsuits claim that Alabama, as a state, has no standing to create or enforce immigration law because it is the purview of the Federal government. The state claims that their law merely creates enforcement for existing federal law. The first hearings on the law are expected to take place by December of 2011.

Effects of Alabama immigration law

Since the Alabama immigration law went into effect, economic activity in Alabama has significantly slowed. Many industries around Alabama have essentially shut down as many employees stage one-day “sick-outs” or are essentially walking off the job entirely. Absentee rates at many schools are significantly spiking and many Alabama farmers are facing fields full of crops they simply cannot find the employees to help harvest.


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