BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CN) – In a federal class action, a woman who was shot three times during a home invasion claims Alabama refused her request for help from the state’s Crime Victims Compensation Fund because she was an undocumented immigrant. But Bernarda Uriostegui says the law that established the fund does not prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving benefits.
Uriostegui says the Crime Victims Compensation Act was enacted to help victims of violent crimes with medical care, lost income, burial expenses and rehabilitation, among other things.
Uriostegui says the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission denied her claim because she was undocumented.
But Uriostegui says the Commission is not able to “determine who is and who is not a legal resident,” but is “making such a determination.”
She claims that though the Alabama Administrative Code states that “illegal aliens are barred from receiving compensation from the Victim’s Fund,” this is “clearly at odds with the clear and expressed language of the Victim’s Act.”
Uriostegui adds that excluding undocumented aliens from participating in the Victim’s Fund will not prevent immigrants from entering Alabama. And she points out that the fund is “partially funded by the offenders themselves, some of whom may be illegal aliens.”
She sued the Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission and its officers, alleging constitutional violations equal protection and the supremacy clause. She seeks an injunction, class certification, costs and other relief.
She is represented by Diandra Debrosse with Gentle, Turner & Sexton of Birmingham.