More portions of immigration blocked

Published 12:05 am Saturday, March 10, 2012

Long lines at the tag office may be a thing of the past – at least when it comes to proof of citizenship, in accordance with the Alabama immigration law.

A federal appeals court temporarily blocked two more sections of the highly contested immigration law Thursday.

“While, I am personally disappointed with the ruling, I am obligated under the law to abide by the order of the court,” said Probate Judge Ben Bowden. “Therefore, the Covington County Probate Office is immediately suspending enforcement of Section 30 of the act until further notice. Customers will no longer be required to prove citizenship or lawful presence in order to engage in transactions with the probate office. Customers are reminded that existing laws still in effect require certain documentation when engaging in transactions with the probate office.”

Lawmakers passed the 72-page legislation in June and have since been challenged by the federal government and a coalition of activist groups.

A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit heard arguments last week but said it wouldn’t rule on the overall case until the Supreme Court decided a federal challenge to a similar law in Arizona.

Alabama lawyers asked the court to stop the two sections and others, at least temporarily, contending that they were harming people in the state.

“We are very pleased that the 11th Circuit understood the harms these provisions were causing in Alabama, and saw fit to enjoin them,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Sam Brooke. “This is a great day for the residents of our state.”

Gov. Robert Bentley called the law the strongest in the country, but after multiple federal court reviews, the only challenged provisions in effect relate to police immigration status checks.

Work eligibility status checks and allowing Alabama residents to sue government officials who do not enforce the law, were not specifically challenged and also remain.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also blocked the law’s ban on contracts with illegal immigrants and said the temporary injunction would be in effect until the court rules on the law, likely in the summer.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange issued a statement after Thursday’s ruling.

“I strongly disagree with the 11th Circuit’s decision today to temporarily enjoin two provisions of the immigration law that the District Court upheld,” Strange said. “I will continue to vigorously defend Alabama’s immigration law in the courts. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court’s coming decision in the Arizona case will make clear that our law is constitutional.”