A coalition of groups seeking to overturn Alabama’s strict new immigration law asked a federal judge this morning to block implementation of the statute.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center and National Immigration Law Center represent more than three dozen plaintiffs who filed suit against HB 56 earlier this month. The request for the injunction calls the law, HB 56, anti-American and says it violates the Constitution and would lead to racial profiling.
“Plaintiffs respectfully submit that this Court should enjoin HB 56 because it is a blatantly unconstitutional state law that regulates immigration and will require Alabama state and local officers to violate core constitutional rights,” says the filing, made in U.S. District Court in Huntsville.
A request for comment from Attorney General Luther Strange’s office was not immediately returned.
HB56, signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley on June 9, makes it a crime to be an undocumented alien in Alabama and for aliens to work in Alabama. In addition, the law:
— Allows law enforcement officers to detain individuals they have a “reasonable suspicion” of having questionable immigration status;
— Requires proof of citizenship to be carried at all times;
— Requires school districts to ask for the immigration status of students;
— Bans undocumented aliens from attending post-secondary schools;
— Makes it illegal to give an undocumented worker a ride to work;
— Makes it illegal to enter into contracts with undocumented workers;
— Provides non-criminal penalties for businesses that employ undocumented aliens;
— Requires businesses to enroll in the E-Verify program starting April 1, 2012.
Defenders of the law say it is a response to the federal government’s lack of action on enforcing immigration laws, and claim it will boost employment in the state.
“With almost one out of every 10 Alabamians looking for a job, we need to make sure that legal Alabama residents are not being passed over for employment in lieu of those who are here illegally,” said Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston. “We urge the court to uphold this law.”
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said the Legislature would be willing to make “tweaks” to the statute if the federal court found problems with it.
“But Alabama is not going to be a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants,” Hubbard said. “Alabama will have a strict immigration law and we will enforce it.”
The request for a preliminary injunction says the law’s intent is “to control which classes of immigrants can enter and the conditions under which they can remain in Alabama – a brazen usurpation of the federal government’s exclusive authority.”
The filing also says legal immigrants would also suffer under the proposal.
“These restrictions subject all immigrants, whether documented or not, to repeated verification of their status in the course of their normal, daily activities, and fundamentally alter the conditions under which they may remain in Alabama,” the filing says.
If the injunction is not granted, most provisions of the law will go into effect on Sept. 1.
The law is similar to SB 1070, an Arizona passed last year that also aimed at curbing immigration into that state. A federal judge has blocked several provisions of that law from taking effect, including provisions allowing law enforcement to detain individuals they have “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally and one making it illegal for undocumented aliens to find work in the state.
Arizona-type bills that passed in Georgia, Indiana and Utah have also been blocked by federal courts.
(Updated at 10:57 a.m. with additional information and to correct that ACLU, SPLC and NILC are representing plaintiffs.)