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A coalition of civil rights groups is appealing a judge's decision to uphold several parts of Alabama's new law against illegal immigration.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn in Birmingham, Ala., ruled that several contentious sections of Alabama’s new law against illegal immigration do not violate federal law and can be enforced. Today, a coalition of civil rights and immigrant rights groups asked Blackburn to postpone enforcement of those parts of the law while they mount an appeal, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.
The groups, which include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, said they were asking a federal appeals court in Atlanta to review Blackburn’s decision, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed the law, calling it “the strongest immigration law in our country,” on June 9, the Montgomery Advertiser reports. But Blackburn issued a temporary hold on the law in the summer while she reviewed the multiple lawsuits against the measure filed by the Obama administration, bishops from Alabama’s Catholic, United Methodist and Episcopal churches and civil rights groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, Politico reports.
On Wednesday, Blackburn ruled that several key measures of the state law can be enforced. These include requiring that public schools determine the legal residency of students and detaining suspected illegal immigrants if they cannot produce proper documentation when stopped for any reason, Reuters reports.
“This decision not only places Alabama on the wrong side of history,” Southern Poverty Law Center Legal Director Mary Bauer said, according to Politico, “but also demonstrates that the rights and freedoms so fundamental to our nation and its history can be manipulated by hate and political agendas – at least for a time.”
Blackburn has yet to make a final decision on other parts of the law, which remain blocked until her final ruling, Politico reports. According to Politico:
Those sections include provisions making it a crime to transport or harbor an illegal immigrant, or for an illegal immigrant to look for or perform work. Blackburn also blocked parts of the law that would allow discrimination lawsuits against companies that hire illegal immigrants when they discharge or fail to hire a U.S. citizen and forbid employers from claiming as business tax deductions wages paid to illegal immigrants.
Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, told the Montgomery Advertiser that he does not expect opponents of the law to prevail. “While enforcement of other parts of the law were delayed pending more definitive action by the courts, the intent of the law still stands, a large majority of this law remains intact and Alabama is finally able to address this issue that has been ignored by the federal government for too long.”