The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Alabama’s new controversial immigration law, essentially fighting Alabama on grounds similar to its legal battle with Arizona over that state’s controversial law.
In both cases, the Justice Department argues that the states are overstepping their authority by wading into something that is a strictly federal responsibility: immigration enforcement.
Gov. Robert Bentley signed the Alabama law in June, but it’s not set to take effect until Sept. 1. The law makes it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant in Alabama and allows law enforcement to detain individuals they have a “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally. The law also makes it illegal to give undocumented immigrants rides and requires school districts to check on the immigration status of students who enroll.
The Justice Department, in its filing, says a state cannot set its own immigration policy and cannot pass laws that conflict with federal immigration laws.
The American Civil Liberties Union applauded the lawsuit, calling Alabama’s immigrant law “draconian” and “anti-immigrant.”
The law has already faced lawsuits from civil rights groups and others, and Alabama religious leaders announced Monday their own lawsuit against the law, saying, “the bishops have reason to fear that administering of religious sacraments, which are central to the Christian faith, to known undocumented persons may be criminalized under this law.”