The primary focus is on HB 56, which is widely considered the most stringent anti-immigrant state law in the country. Since key portions of the law went into effect last September, HB 56 has had devastating effects on the state. Indeed, a report released this week documented what’s been long known: Alabama ushered in a wave of discrimination, racial profiling and anti-immigrant bigotry when HB 56 became law.
A coalition of civil rights organizations and the federal government will argue today in separate cases that the appellate court ought to move to preserve a block that already exists on certain provisions of HB 56. They will also argue that the courts should enjoin, or temporary block, the entirety of the law while the courts determine the constitutionality of the laws.
The federal government and the coalition of civil rights groups, led by the ACLU and the National Immigration Law Center, have built the bulk of their case against HB 56 and HB 87 around the Constitution’s Supremacy clause, which says that regulating and enforcing immigration law is a strictly federal responsibility, and that states may not design and enforce their own immigration laws. The coalition of civil rights groups also argue that HB 56 carries within it violations of the Fourth Amendment, which protects people against “unreasonable search and seizure.”
This legal argument has been convincing enough for judges who’ve dealt with challenges to four state immigration laws to block the key provisions, which mandate that police officers detain and question any person who they believe may be undocumented. However, in a break from other courts, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Blackburn let that provision go into effect in Alabama.
Judge Blackburn also let stand a provision that makes any contract an undocumented immigrant enters into unenforceable. Want to buy a home? Or offer services to an employer? Any such agreement an undocumented immigrant signs would be unenforceable, simply because of their legal status.