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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Alabama Backs Off Plan to Spotlight Illegal Alien Arrests

(CN) - Alabama won't be publishing the names of undocumented immigrants who have been arrested after all, thanks to a proposed settlement agreement announced by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The agreement, which was filed in the federal court in Montgomery, could bring closure to a class action that was filed last year in the wake of the adoption of Alabama's controversial immigration law, HB 56.

The February 2013 lawsuit challenged a provision of the law that was authorized the state to post online a list of undocumented immigrants who had been arrested.

The complaint said the new law required "the Administrative Office of the Courts to compile, and the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to post on its public website, the names and other identifying information of 'unlawfully present alien[s]' who are detained for any violation of state law and who then appear in a state court."

The plaintiffs in the case had been arrested in November 2012 for fishing without a license. All four of the plaintiffs were born in Mexico and were subject to the law's new provision.

The suit further claimed that the law didn't provide a mechanism for people to challenge the "stigmatizing label, even if they are present with the permission of the federal government or even if they are U.S. citizens."

Under the settlement agreement, the Administrative Office of Courts will adopt a new policy that will treat the relevant immigration information as confidential.

The agreement further states that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency won't publish the information "in a manner available to the public."

The lawsuit was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center on behalf of the four plaintiffs and others similarly situated. The defendants in the case were Rich Hobson, as the administrative director of courts, and Spencer Collier, as director of the Alabama Department of Homeland Security.

Since it was enacted in 2011, Alabama's far-reaching immigration law has faced an ongoing series of legal challenges.

"This is yet another victory for Alabama's immigrant community," said Sam Brooke, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. "Blocking this final vestige of HB 56 is another nail in the coffin for Alabama's misguided attempt to bully and intimidate immigrants."

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