Bill Mears, CNN, October 14, 2011
A federal appeals court has blocked enforcement of parts of a controversial immigration enforcement law in Alabama.
The injunction issued Friday from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta came after the U.S. Justice Department–supported by a coalition of immigrant rights groups–requested the legislation, known as HB 56, be put on hold until the larger constitutional questions can be addressed, a process that could take some months at least.
The 16-page order gives both sides partial victories, allowing some parts of the law to go into effect while others are temporarily blocked.
Among the provisions temporarily blocked from being enforced are:
–One requiring state officials to check the immigration status of students in public schools;
–One making “willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration card” a misdemeanor for immigrants;
But the state will be allowed to enforce these contested sections:
–One requiring that police during “lawful” stops or arrests “attempt to determine the immigration status of a person who they suspect is an unauthorized alien of this country.” That provision is similar to other laws aiming to crack down on illegal immigration passed by other state legislatures over the past year.
–One barring state courts from enforcing contracts involving undocumented immigrants, if the hiring party had a “direct or constructive” knowledge that the person was in the country unlawfully.
–One making it a felony for illegal immigrants to enter into a “business transaction” in Alabama, including applying for a driver’s license or a business license.
Ahead of the injunction, Justice Department officials met with civic and religious leaders in Alabama Friday morning.
Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez told reporters that local leaders are concerned about reports of increased bullying in schools and a large absence of Hispanic students from classes. The section of the law that raised those worries is now blocked.
Perez also said he is “absolutely” sure that victims of crime are not going to police out of fear of being deported. Given Friday’s news, that could remain a concern.
State officials confirm an unspecified number of Hispanics and other immigrants have left the state, many in fear of being arrested or targeted by police.
Workers in the agriculture, landscaping, food service, maintenance, and construction fields in particular have not been showing up on the job. Many immigrant rights groups have launched workplace boycotts in recent days.