BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) – A federal judge has refused to block much of a new and far-reaching immigration law that targets illegal immigrants in the state and what Governor Robert Bentley today described as “the strongest immigration law in this country.”
The law known as HB 56 was due to go into effect Sept. 1, but U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn issued a temporary injunction in late August so she could address the issues presented by the federal government, various church leaders and civil rights groups that had filed suit opposing the law.
In her 115-page opinion, Blackburn did block certain portions of the law, including, but not limited to, the provision that makes it illegal to harbor or transport an illegal alien, a provision that bars illegal immigrants from enrolling in public universities and the provision that would make it illegal to stop along a road and hire temporary workers.
But she let the rest of the law stand, including provisions that authorize police to conduct immigration checks during routine traffic stops, and a new system that requires public schools to check students’ immigration status upon enrollment.
Other provisions that were allowed to stand include one that makes it a crime not to carry proper alien documentation, and another that forbids state and local agencies from doing business with undocumented aliens.
Just as Judge Blackburn was issuing her ruling, hundreds of students at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa staged protests against the law.
Tough immigration laws similar to the ones in Alabama have been passed in Arizona, Georgia, Utah and Indiana, but were blocked by other federal judges.
In its original lawsuit, the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama claim the law amounts to nothing more than racial profiling within the state of Alabama. Blackburn issued separate rulings on each of the three lawsuits.