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ACLU Lens: Justice Department Sues to Block Alabama Immigration Law Previously Challenged by ACLU

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August 2, 2011

The government has filed a suit against Alabama’s draconian anti-immigrant law, which it said conflicts with federal laws and makes it too easy for police to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally.

Modeled on Arizona’s infamous SB 1070 but taking it to even greater extremes, the Alabama law is considered the most pernicious of a series of state anti-immigrant laws passed this year.

The Justice Department lawsuit filed Monday comes on the heels of a class-action challenge filed last month by the ACLU and a coalition of other civil rights organizations charging the law is unconstitutional on multiple grounds. On July 21, the coalition filed a request that the court block the law from taking effect, pending a final ruling on the law’s constitutionality.

“The lawsuit will help protect the civil rights of Alabamians against legislation that mandates unlawful police searches and seizures in the name of immigration enforcement,” said Cecilia Wang, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

The ACLU and its partners contend the Alabama law:

  • Authorizes police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops; and criminalizes Alabamians for ordinary interactions with undocumented individuals.
  • Chills children’s access to public schools by requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents.
  • Unconstitutionally interferes with federal authority over immigration matters and subjects Alabamians – including U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents – to unlawful search and seizure.

“We welcome the federal government’s effort to block Alabama’s unconstitutional law,” said Olivia Turner, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. “We hope this law will be enjoined, just like the law in Arizona that inspired it.”

In the news:
> Montgomery Advertiser: Justice Department files court challenge to Alabama’s new immigration law
> Birmingham News: New Alabama Immigration Law Has Some Immigrants Already Planning to Move
> Department of Justice Lawsuit

Get more information. Click here to read more about Immigration Myths and Facts.

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