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Alabama wins on immigration law decision

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U. S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn upheld the major parts of the Alabama Immigration bill yesterday, Sept. 28, 2011 in a 115 page decision. Judge Blackburn indicated parts of the law are in conflict with federal laws, but others are not.

In her opinion, Judge Blackburn indicated that federal law does not restrict the states from checking students or suspects stopped by police. She refused to bar provisions that allow police to hold suspected illegal immigrants without bond; bar state courts from enforcing contracts involving illegal immigrants; make it a felony for an illegal immigrant to do business with the state; and make it a misdemeanor for an illegal resident not to have immigration papers.

The Alabama law was set to begin Sept. 1, but the judge put a temporary hold on all provisions until Sept. 29th. At this time it is not clear when the state will begin enforcing the law. Alabama Attorney General, Luther Strange was unavailable for comment.

As a part of her opinion, Judge Blackburn did block making it a crime for an illegal immigrant to solicit work or for anyone to transport an illegal immigrant. She also refused to allow discrimination lawsuits against companies that dismiss legal workers in favor of illegal immigrants, or to forbid businesses from taking tax deductions for wages paid to illegals.

Alabama’s law is viewed as the most restrictive immigration bill instituted by a state. A major sticking point is the section that requires schools to verify citizenship status of students either born outside the U. S. or children of immigrants here illegally. These statistics are to be reported to the state. Emphasis is on the fact illegal children will not be barred from attending schools but opponents believe it is an attempt to decrease enrollment by creating a ‘climate of fear.’

The Wall Street Journal today states legal scholars say the decision is contradictory and calls ‘for a uniform federal standard rather than a patchwork of state laws.’ This is arguably a disingenuous statement in view of the fact that federal standards are not being enforced, yet the Department of Justice continues to file complaints against these states, their only defense being the states are encroaching federal territory.

In each case, the states have acted in a defensive mode due to changes in circumstance such as Alabama seeing a 145% increase in the Hispanic population in the past decade, or Arizona’s very serious border war. Ultimately it appears these issues will be decided by the Supreme Court since federal judges are split in their decisions.

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