Civil rights groups challenge immigration law

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 9, 2011

On Friday, the Southern Poverty Law Center, along with a coalition of civil rights groups filed a class action lawsuit challenging the recently passed anti-immigration law.

Opponents of the law say it’s even more restrictive than the Arizona immigration law that inspired it.

“We have filed this lawsuit today because Alabama’s immigration law is blatantly unconstitutional,” said Mary Bauer, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“This law revisits the state’s painful racial past and tramples the rights of all Alabama residents. It should never become the law of the land.”

The lawsuit says that the law is unconstitutional in that it unlawfully interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters, is a violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution; subjects Alabamians – including countless U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents – to unlawful search and seizure, is a violation of the fourth amendment; unlawfully deters immigrant families from enrolling their children in public schools; unconstitutionally bars many lawfully present immigrants from attending public colleges or universities in Alabama; and drastically restricts the right to enter into contracts.

Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard issued a statement Friday afternoon defending the bill.

“I’m not sure what part of the word ‘illegal’ some people don’t understand,” he said. “In Alabama, we believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all citizens. It isn’t fair to the generations of immigrants who have come to this country legally for us to look the other way while others break the law and cheat the system.”