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Alabama Immigration Law Partially Blocked by 11th Circuit

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on October 14, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A just-released order might cause some confusion amongst those challenging the controversial Alabama immigration law.

Acting on the Justice Department's recent appeal, the 11th Circuit partially granted a preliminary injunction enjoining two sections of the law. However, the court also denied a request to stop the enforcement of four other provisions.

To make matters worse, the order provides absolutely no explanation for the court's decision.

The lack of analysis is probably a function of the type of order granted. The Justice Department requested an injunction pending appeal. These types of injunctions are stop-gap measures, and are designed to preserve the status quo while the court considers an appeal.

In a few months, a panel of judges will issue a ruling on the merits. At that point, this injunction will cease to exist, and a new injunction may or may not be issued. Today's decision will not be binding on that panel.

Despite its temporary nature, the court's ruling is the law. Thus, the state cannot enforce the following parts of the Alabama immigration law:

  • Section 10, which requires immigrants to carry residency documents.
  • Section 28, which requires public schools to determine and report the immigration status of all students.

On the other hand, Alabama can enforce these provisions:

  • Section 12, which requires police to verify the status of suspected undocumented aliens.
  • Section 18, which requires police to arrest and verify the immigration status of persons driving without a license.
  • Section 27, which prohibits state courts from enforcing contracts signed by illegal aliens.
  • Section 30, which prohibits undocumented persons from entering into "business transactions" with state and local governments.

A more complete analysis of these provisions and others contained in the Alabama immigration law is due by the end of the year.

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