Despite Department of Justice's Relentless Attack, 11th Circuit Allows Most Provisions of the Alabama Immigration Enforcement Law to Take Effect

Oct 14, 2011, 17:11 ET from Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) called today's ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, allowing nearly all key provisions of Alabama's immigration enforcement law to be implemented, "a victory for the people of Alabama and the right of state and local governments to protect citizens from the harmful impact of mass illegal immigration." FAIR expressed disappointment that two provisions of H.B. 56 were temporarily enjoined by the 11th Circuit, but remains confident that these provisions will ultimately be upheld on their legal merits.

The U.S. Department of Justice asked the 11th Circuit to enjoin certain provisions of Alabama's immigration enforcement law only days after Federal District Court Judge Sharon Blackburn issued a decision that let most of its provisions go into effect. "The relentless attack by the Department of Justice against Alabama and other states for attempting to enforce U.S. immigration laws provides further evidence that the department's primary function has become the pursuit of politics rather than the pursuit of justice," stated Dan Stein, president of FAIR. "Even as the Obama administration has announced its intent not to enforce many U.S. immigration laws citing lack of resources, the Department of Justice continues to expend significant money and manpower in an effort to stop states from enforcing those laws."

Key provisions of H.B. 56 that remain in effect as a result of the 11th Circuit ruling:

  • Section 12, which requires local law enforcement to make a reasonable attempt to check immigration status during a lawful stop, when practicable, if there is reasonable suspicion the individual is an illegal alien.
  • Section 18, which requires local law enforcement to make reasonable effort to verify the immigration status of person who is arrested for driving without a license.
  • Section 27, which bars the enforcement of contracts entered into when one party knows the other is an illegal alien.
  • Section 30, which provides that it is a felony for illegal aliens to enter into a "business transaction" with the state or political subdivisions, including applying for a driver's or business license.

"These provisions, which both a federal judge and federal circuit court have refused to enjoin, provide Alabama critical tools to discourage illegal aliens from settling or remaining in the state. These rulings also provide an important template for other states that want to fill the breach left by the Obama administration's refusal to enforce many immigration laws," Stein said.

The 11th Circuit temporarily blocked two other significant provisions of H.B. 56:

  • Section 28, which requires public schools to gather information of its students' immigration status upon enrollment, based on birth certificates, and submit non-identifiable data to the state.
  • Section 10, which provides that an illegal alien who fails to comply with the federal alien registration laws is guilty of a misdemeanor under state law.

"While we are disappointed that the 11th Circuit has temporarily blocked implementation of these provisions, it is important to note that the court did not declare these provisions to be unconstitutional.  The court was clear that the injunction does not affect consideration on the merits.  The requirement that aliens carry immigration documents mirrors federal immigration law. Since H.B. 56 does not deny anyone admission to public schools, but simply allows the state to collect data about who is enrolled in its schools, FAIR believes that both will eventually be upheld.

"Today's ruling represents a significant vindication of Alabama's effort to protect the interests of its citizens, and a significant repudiation of the Department of Justice's highly politicized and wasteful effort to thwart the enforcement of immigration laws," concluded Stein.

About FAIR
Founded in 1979, FAIR is the country's largest immigration reform group.  With over 250,000 members nationwide, FAIR fights for immigration policies that serve national interests, not special interests.  FAIR believes that immigration reform must enhance national security, improve the economy, protect jobs, preserve our environment, and establish a rule of law that is recognized and enforced.  

SOURCE Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)