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August 25, 2011   Email to Friend 

FEDERAL JUDGE HEARS AGRUMENTS TO BLOCK STATE IMMIGRATION LAW
Jillian Clair
334-612-5660
August 25, 2011

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Parts of Alabama's new immigration law scheduled to take effect Sept. 1 could be blocked by a federal court judge who began hearing arguments Wednesday.

The U.S. Justice Department, a group of Alabama church leaders and several civil rights groups are asking U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn to block the law's Sept. 1 implementation date, arguing it violates several basic rights and conflicts with federal law.

During the all-day hearing in Birmingham Wednesday, Blackburn acknowledged flaws in two of the law's provisions.

Blackburn questioned the requirement for school districts to check the immigration status of newly-enrolled students as well as a provision that allows law enforcement officers with "reasonable suspicion" that a person is in the country illegally to detain the person while checking their status. The judge also described immigration violations as a civil offense rather than a criminal offense.

Blackburn was skeptical, however, of the church groups' claims and said there was nothing in the legislation that banned religious services.

Blackburn did not indicate when she would rule, but a decision is likely to come before the Sept. 1 implementation date.

A federal judge in Georgia ruled June 27 against requiring police to check the immigration status of suspects who cannot produce identification. A provision that made it a crime to harbor or transport an undocumented immigrant was also blocked in Georgia.

Several other states have also had parts of their immigrations laws blocked, but in all cases, the federal judges have upheld mandating electronic verification (E-Verify), a provision that will affect every Alabama employer.

The Alabama Farmers Federation supports secure borders and immigration reform, but maintains the newly passed state immigration law does not provide an adequate method of obtaining legal workers, as farmers across the state are already struggling to find workers to harvest crops.

The Farmers Federation is following the law's progress closely. Visit www.alfafarmers.org for updates.


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