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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Alabama

Monday, November 25, 2013

Alabama's Immigration Law Permanently Blocked In Justice Department Lawsuit

BIRMINGHAM—The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama entered its final judgment today in United States v. Alabama, resolving the Justice Department's constitutional challenge to Alabama's immigration law, H.B. 56, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and Assistant Attorney General Stuart Delery of the Department's Civil Division announced.

The judgment permanently prohibits Alabama from enforcing seven provisions of H.B. 56 that were designed to affect virtually every aspect of an unauthorized immigrant's daily life, from employment to housing to transportation to entering into and enforcing contracts. The challenged provisions also threatened to impose significant burdens on federal and state agencies, diverting their resources away from dangerous criminal aliens and other high-priority criminal activity.

"The federal government has been making the nation safer by aggressively prosecuting and deporting criminal aliens in record numbers, and it has done so with the cooperation of our sheriffs and police departments," Vance said. "But H.B. 56 diverted the attention of our state and local partners from violent criminals to ordinary families. The law forced parents to uproot their sons and daughters from their home, and it punished immigrant children for exercising their constitutional right to go to school. Today's decision marks a return to common-sense immigration law enforcement."

"Our system demands that our nation speak with one voice on matters of foreign affairs and immigration policy," Delery added. "In striking down these provisions of H.B. 56, the district court and the Eleventh Circuit have reaffirmed that federal law precludes a patchwork of immigration laws of the type that interferes with federal enforcement, foreign policy, and the rights of lawfully present aliens."

Today's judgment follows the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit declaring the enjoined provisions unconstitutional because they impermissibly conflicted with federal immigration law and undermined federal immigration-enforcement efforts. An additional provision of the Alabama immigration law, requiring immigration-status verification of school children, was permanently enjoined in a parallel lawsuit by private plaintiffs, Hispanic Interest Coalition of Ala. et al. v. Governor of Ala. Today's judgment also dismisses challenges to three other provisions of the Alabama immigration law, although the Justice Department would be able to file a new challenge if the implementation of those provisions raised legal problems.

Updated March 19, 2015