Historically controversial in the treatment of its citizens, the state of Alabama’s bid to own the nation’s strictest immigration laws grew stronger. U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn upheld significant sections of the law pertaining to illegal immigrants, stating that they aren’t pre-empted by federal regulations.
The Department of Justice (DOJ), civil rights groups and church leaders previously filed lawsuits challenging the Alabama law, which make it illegal to be in the state without valid immigration documentation. State and local police also are allowed, in specific instances, to detain or arrest anyone they think could be an illegal immigrant. The DOJ’s suit claimed the law was unconstitutional on the basis that it allegedly usurps federal authority over immigration.
In her decision, Judge Blackburn let stand provisions authorizing police to check detainees’ immigration status as well as public schools’ ability to verify students’ status. However, she enjoined regulations that criminalize illegals from applying for jobs and people from concealing, harboring or shielding illegals.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley took to the Internet to register his glee.
“Today is a victory for Alabama. The court agreed with us on a majority of the provisions that were challenged,” he said in a statement. “During my campaign, I promised a tough law against illegal immigration, and we now have one. The law that the Alabama Legislature passed and I signed is constitutional.
"If the federal government had done its job by enforcing its own immigration laws, there would be no need for Alabama—or other states—to pass a law such as this. Unfortunately, they have failed to do their job.”
Judge Blackburn’s determination comes nearly a month after she stated that she wouldn’t have time to address the challenges to the law.
For more, including a response from the DOJ, read the Wall Street Journal.