Justice Department Asks Appeals Court to Halt Alabama Immigration Law
By Samuel Knight | October 7, 2011 12:38 pm

The Justice Department Friday asked a federal appeals court to block provisions of an Alabama immigration law.

The motion, filed with  the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, came a day after U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn rejected a similar motion.

Blackburn ruled that the Justice Department, and a coalition of civil rights groups that joined the appeal, did not make a “substantial” case that they were likely to prevail, and that neither the federal government nor the public would suffer irreparable or substantial harm while the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals heard challenges to the law.

But the Justice Department countered that “news accounts confirm that the law is having its intended but impermissible consequences of driving aliens from the State outside of the [Immigration and Nationality Act's] orderly system for removal, and by inducing many parents to keep their children home from school due to fear about the State’s immigration policy.”

The appeal cited an October 3 New York Times article, which said that Hispanic immigrants began to flee the state “just hours” after Blackburn upheld most of Alabama H.B. 56 on September 28.

Justice Department lawyers also argued that Alabama H.B. 56 discriminates against “foreign-born citizens and lawfully present aliens…by making it a crime for any landlord to rent housing to an unlawfully present alien, invalidating all contracts with unlawfully present aliens, and even targeting school-age children with an alien registration system.”

They added that the U.S. government already has comprehensive immigration law enforcement and “focuses its attention on aliens who pose a danger to national security or have committed crimes.”

The appeal listed a number of South American and Latin American countries – in addition to civil rights groups and private citizens – as having an interest in the outcome of the appeal, and DOJ lawyers argued that the law infringes upon”the federal government’s exclusive authority over immigration” and adversely affects “the Nation’s dealings with other countries.”

Critics and supporters have said that Alabama H.B. 56 is the toughest immigration law in the U.S. It a permits state authorities to question those suspected of entering the United States illegally and hold them without bond, in addition to allowing officials to verify the immigration status of public school students.

Two key aspects of the law have already taken effect, according to the AP.

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