HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (CN) – A federal judge on Monday temporarily restrained Alabama from enforcing its harsh new immigration law, which a coalition of religious leaders say would outlaw even administering of sacraments to people without documents.
The judge said she was restraining the state because of the “limited time available to adequately address the numerous challenges to Act 2011-535 9H.B. 56] by the effective date” – Sept. 1.
In her terse, 2-page order, Chief U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn wrote: “In entering this order the court specifically notes that it is in no way addressing the merits of the motions.”
Judge Blackburn said she will issue “detailed Memorandum Opinions and Orders ruling on the merits of the pending Motions for Preliminary Injunction no later than September 28, 2011. This temporary injunction shall remain in effect until September 29, 2011, or until the court enters its rulings, whichever comes first.”
A coalition of church leaders suedthe state in early August, calling the law “that nation’s most merciless anti-immigration legislation.”
As Courthouse News reported on Aug. 4, the law makes it a crime for Alabama residents to harbor, conceal or transport undocumented immigrants or induce them to come into the state. It makes it illegal to rent property to undocumented people. It changes contract law, prohibiting state courts from recognizing or enforcing contracts between an undocumented immigrant and any other resident, if the second party is aware of the immigrant’s “unauthorized” status. The few exceptions include food purchases, medical services and taking an immigrant back to where he came from.
A dozen unions and civil rights groups challengedthe law in July, in a class action that called HB 56 unconstitutional, “a state immigration law of unprecedented reach – going well beyond recent state immigration laws in Arizona, Utah, Indiana, and Georgia,” and claiming that it will force citizens and noncitizen alike to submit to “unlawful interrogations, searches, seizures, and arrests, and will result in racial profiling.”