Key Parts of Alabama’s Immigration Law Upheld

#HB56 Immigration Rally

Image by acnatta via Flickr

On Wednesday, September 28, 2011, U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn, a Republican appointee, upheld several sections of Alabama’s new immigration law:

1) a section allowing law enforcement officials to question suspected people on their legal status, and hold them without bond (effective immediately) and

2) a section requiring schools (beginning Thursday) to determine the legal status of students when they enroll,

although the state insists that children will not be turned away from attending school, a Christian Monitor Science article discusses the impact of this new provision:

“… even though they’re permitting the children to come to school, they’re creating this situation where they’re not likely to go to school,” says Rosemary Salamone, a law professor at St. John’s University in Jamaica, N.Y.

3)  Along with the provisions above, businesses are required to use E-Verify to confirm a hire’s eligibility to work.

4)  It is now a felony for an undocumented immigrant to do business with the state (i.e. obtaining a drivers license)  and it will be a misdemeanor for an undocumented resident not to have immigration papers.

5)   Judge Blackburn also upheld Section 27, which prohibits state courts from enforcing contracts between undocumented immigrants and parties that are aware of their undocumented status.

A Huffington Post article says Alabama’s Hispanic population grew by 145 percent over the last decade but still only represents around 4 percent of the population, though there are many schools in northern Alabama where most of the students are Hispanic.

Some Alabama police officers are worried about the lack of funds, facilities, and man power to enforce this new law while school officials are concerned about school drop out rates and the requirement to report numbers to the state.  The new law also is effecting Alabama farmers who say they will be unable to harvest their crops without the essential migrant labor and others say it will be more difficult to rebuild Alabama’s infrastructure destroyed by April’s tornadoes without the undocumented work force.

On Thursday, September 29th, the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center and other organizations asked Judge Blackburn for a hold on the provisions while they pursue an appeal.

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