Civil and Human Rights Groups File Lawsuit to Block Alabama Anti-Immigration Law
July 8, 2011 - Posted by Ron Bigler
A recently enacted anti-immigration law in Alabama is unconstitutional and opens the door to racial profiling, according to a lawsuit filed this week by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a coalition of civil and human rights groups.
The groups charge that the law, H.B. 56, subjects Alabama residents to unlawful searches and seizures, unjustly restricts educational opportunities, and interferes with federal jurisdiction over immigration enforcement matters.
"Alabama has brazenly enacted this law despite the fact that federal courts have stopped each and every one of these discriminatory laws from going into effect," said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. "Local Alabama communities and people across the country are shocked and dismayed by the state’s effort to erode our civil rights and fundamental American values. Just as we’ve stopped similar draconian laws in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia from going into effect, we will do so here in Alabama as well."
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed H.B. 56 into law in June as an anti-immigrant measure that goes even further than Arizona's S.B. 1070, which encouraged racial profiling by requiring law enforcement officers to stop, question, detain, and arrest anyone that they have a "reasonable suspicion" to believe is undocumented.
The Alabama law, which is set to take effect on September 1, includes Arizona's "reasonable suspicion" clause and takes it a step further by authorizing the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to hire and maintain its own immigration police force. H.B. 56 even turns Alabama schools into immigration agents by requiring them to verify the immigration status of students and report it to the state, and bars the undocumented from seeking higher education in Alabama. It also interferes with their ability to rent housing, earn a living, and enter into contracts, and prohibits transporting or “harboring” any undocumented immigrant while instituting stiff penalties for anyone who breaks this law.
The coalition bringing the lawsuit against Alabama's HB 56 includes the national ACLU, along with the ACLU of Alabama, the National Immigration Law Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Asian Law Caucus and the Asian American Justice Center.