NILC Welcomes Opposition to Alabama’s H.B. 56

August 11, 2011

NILC Welcomes Opposition to Alabama’s H.B. 56

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and a coalition of other civil rights groups applauded the filing of legal briefs on behalf of more than 90 advocacy groups and countries opposed to Alabama’s new anti-immigrant law, HB 56. The groups cited the briefs as further evidence of the widespread harm the law will inflict across the state and the diverse coalition of groups opposing HB 56 and similar anti-immigrant measures across the country.

Nine amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs were filed last week in the civil rights coalition lawsuit challenging the law in U.S. district court. The briefs demonstrate that the Alabama law interferes with U.S. diplomatic interests and encourages discrimination. Civil rights and education groups contend that the law will adversely impact victims of crimes, students with limited English proficiency, Alabama educators, and others. The law is set to take effect on September 1.

The coalition asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama last month to block the law from taking effect. The court has consolidated the coalition’s lawsuit with a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, which accuses the state of undermining federal immigration priorities, and a lawsuit filed by state religious leaders, which alleges that the law criminalizes their ability to worship by making it a potential crime to be a Good Samaritan to an undocumented immigrant.

HB 56 allows law enforcement officials to check individuals’ immigration status, makes it a crime to knowingly transport or house an undocumented immigrant, and requires school officials to determine the immigration status of students and their parents, among other provisions.

Amicus curiae briefs are legal briefs filed by individuals or organizations with a strong interest in a matter at issue. The briefs filed in Alabama focus on a number of issues related to the new law.

  • The following nations joined Mexico’s amicus curiae brief opposing the law: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.
  • The following organizations signed a brief describing how the law will discourage the reporting of domestic violence and other violent crimes: Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Legal Momentum; ASISTA Immigration Assistance; the Victim Rights Law Center; Alianza Latina en contra de la Agresión Sexual (ALAS); American Friends Service Committee; Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Arte Sana; Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance; California Women’s Law Center; Break the Chain Campaign; Casa de Esperanza (Minnesota); Casa de Maryland, Inc.; Central American Resource Center; Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE);  Coalition of Labor Union Women; Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST); Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc.; Counsel of Mexican Federations in North America/Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas en Norteamericana; Family Values @ Work Consortium; Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence; The Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (IowaCASA); Kentucky Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Nancy Kelly; National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum; National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies; National Association of Social Workers and the Alabama Chapter of NASW; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; National Council of Jewish Women; National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health; National Women’s Law Center; Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence; New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc.; 9 to 5, National Association of Working Women; Raksha; South Asian Americans Leading Together; University of Cincinnati College of Law Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic; Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; Voces de La Frontera; Washington Empowered Against Violence (WEAVE); West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
  • The following organizations signed a brief describing the law’s negative impact on individuals’ civil rights: the Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Alabama Council on Human Relations; Alabama New South Coalition; the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Alabama NOW; Birmingham Peace Project; Dominican American National Roundtable; the National Dominican American Council; Equality Alabama; Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund; Hispanic Federation; Immigration Equality; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; the Montgomery Improvement Association; the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association; the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials; National Council of La Raza; National Employment Law Project; National Guestworker Alliance; National Immigration Law Project of the National Lawyers Guild; National Lawyers Guild; New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice; Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund; Society of American Law Teachers; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Southern Coalition for Social Justice; and United States Hispanic Leadership Institute.
  • The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers signed a brief describing the threat posed to individuals’ constitutionally protected rights against prolonged detention, the fact that the law will deputize Alabama police officers as immigration agents in conflict with federal law, and the law’s overall negative impact in criminal justice matters.
  • The Alabama Education Association and the National Education Association signed a brief describing the law’s negative impact on Alabama educators, students, and families.
  • The following organizations signed briefs citing the law’s adverse impact on students who have limited English proficiency or are English language-learners: Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, Hispanic College Fund; League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); and Multicultural Education, Training & Advocacy, Inc.  The brief asserts that HB 56 seeks to deter immigrant children from attending school because it requires educators to ascertain their families’ immigration status.
  • The Anti-Defamation League signed a brief describing the law’s impact on victims of hate crimes.
  • The following organizations signed a brief describing the law’s adverse impact on housing in Alabama: Central Alabama Fair Housing Center; Fair Housing Center of North Alabama; South Alabama Center for Fair Housing; and National Fair Housing Alliance.
  • The American Immigration Lawyers Association signed a brief describing how the law is incompatible with existing federal immigration law.

“The diversity of these amici briefs shows the staggering reach of HB 56 and the dire consequences its implementation would have on students, survivors of crime, and people of color all across the state,” said Linton Joaquin, NILC general counsel.

“We are pleased to see so many groups voice their opposition to a law that undermines the core American values of fairness and equality,” said Mary Bauer, SPLC legal director. “These briefs show this law will wreak havoc across the state and trample the rights of countless residents – regardless of immigration status.”

Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said: “The outpouring of these briefs shows broad support for the lawsuits challenging this unconstitutional law. They condemn the Alabama law because it violates core civil rights and interferes with our government’s ability to protect our national interests on immigration and foreign relations.”

Founded in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center envisions a society in which all people—regardless of race, gender, income level, or immigration status—have the opportunity to live freely, work safely, and thrive in society. The organization’s advocates and attorneys use a variety of tools, including policy analysis, litigation, education and advocacy, to achieve this vision.

The amicus briefs are available from NILC upon request.

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