Justices refuse Alabama’s immigration law appeal

April 30, 2013

120px-Law_gavelReuters, 4/29/13

The Supreme Court rebuffed the state of Alabama on Monday by deciding not to intervene in a case where federal judges blocked a state law that criminalizes the harboring of illegal immigrants. By refusing to hear Alabama’s appeal of the Obama administration’s lower court victories, the justices steered clear of a hot-button debate at a time when Congress is engaged in writing legislation to overhaul immigration laws.

Both a federal judge and an appeals court agreed with the White House that federal law trumped a provision in Alabama state law that made it illegal to harbor or transport anyone in the state who had entered the country illegally. The appeals court ruling remains intact as a result of the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene. A brief order issued by the Supreme Court on Monday said Justice Antonin Scalia disagreed with the decision not to hear the case.

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Obama administration widens challenges to state immigration laws

September 29, 2011

The Washington Post, 9/29/11

The Obama administration is escalating its crackdown on tough immigration laws, with lawyers reviewing four new state statutes to determine whether the federal government will take the extraordinary step of challenging the measures in court.

Justice Department lawyers have sued Arizona and Alabama, where a federal judge on Wednesday allowed key parts of that state’s immigration law to take effect but blocked other provisions. Federal lawyers are talking to Utah officials about a third possible lawsuit and are considering legal challenges in Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina, according to court documents and government officials.

The level of federal intervention is highly unusual, legal experts said, especially because civil rights groups already have sued most of those states. Typically, the government files briefs or seeks to intervene in other lawsuits filed against state statutes.

OPINION: The Nation’s Cruelest Immigration Law

August 28, 2011

The New York Times, 8/28/11

The Alabama Legislature opened its session on March 1 on a note of humility and compassion. In the Senate, a Christian pastor asked God to grant members “wisdom and discernment” to do what is right. “Not what’s right in their own eyes,” he said, “but what’s right according to your word.” Soon after, both houses passed, and the governor signed, the country’s cruelest, most unforgiving immigration law.

The law, which takes effect Sept. 1, is so inhumane that four Alabama church leaders — an Episcopal bishop, a Methodist bishop and a Roman Catholic archbishop and bishop —have sued to block it, saying it criminalizes acts of Christian compassion. It is a sweeping attempt to terrorize undocumented immigrants in every aspect of their lives, and to make potential criminals of anyone who may work or live with them or show them kindness.

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Battle Over Alabama Immigration Law Heads to Court Wednesday

August 23, 2011

The Huntsville Times, 8/23/11

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Being sued by the U.S. Justice Department, Alabama will be back in federal court Wednesday. But unlike disputes in the 1960s and 1970s, Alabama says this time its only fault is trying too fully to cooperate with federal law.

The Justice Department disagrees, calling the state’s new immigration law an “inflexible Alabama-specific approach” that is by any definition “non-cooperative.”

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is expected to lead a team of lawyers that will argue for the state. The Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on the hearing, saying its positions are laid out in the court record.

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16 Countries, Including Mexico, File Briefs Against New Alabama Immigration Law

August 4, 2011

Fox News, 8/4/11

In an effort to ensure their citizens are treated fairly in Alabama, 16 nations, including Mexico, filed briefs against the state’s controversial new immigration law that has already drawn fire from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Edward Still, a Birmingham attorney who filed the brief, told The Montgomery Advertiser that the nations “want to have one immigration law and not 50.”

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DOJ sues Alabama over immigration law

August 2, 2011

Politico, 8/2/11

Arguing that the federal government sets immigration policy, the Justice Department has filed a lawsuit to stop Alabama’s toughest-in-the-nation law before it takes effect on Sept. 1.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Birmingham, is the third major legal challenge to the Alabama law, which would, among other things, make it illegal for undocumented immigrants to apply for work, require law enforcement to determine the legal status of people they arrest, transport or “conceal” undocumented people in the state, and force public schools to determine the citizenship status of their students.

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In Alabama, a Harsh Bill for Residents Here Illegally

June 4, 2011

The New  York Times, 6/4/2011

Alabama has passed a sweeping bill to crack down on illegal immigrants that both supporters and opponents call the toughest of its kind in the country, going well beyond a law Arizona passed last year that caused a furor there.

The measure was passed by large margins in the Alabama Senate and the House, both Republican-controlled, in votes on Thursday. Governor Robert Bentley, a Republican, is expected to sign the bill into law.

“Alabama is now the new No. 1 state for immigration enforcement,” said Kris Kobach, a constitutional lawyer who is secretary of state in Kansas. He has helped write many state bills to curtail illegal immigration, including Alabama’s.

“This bill invites discrimination into every aspect of the lives of people in Alabama,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the immigrants’ rights project of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has brought legal challenges against several state immigration-control laws. Calling Alabama’s bill “outrageous and blatantly unconstitutional,” Ms. Wang said, “We will take action if the governor signs it.”

The Alabama bill includes a provision similar to one that stirred controversy in Arizona, authorizing state and local police officers to ask about the immigration status of anyone they stop based on a “reasonable suspicion” the person is an illegal immigrant. Federal courts have suspended most of that Arizona law.

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