NILC Asks Federal Court to Block H.B. 56

August 24, 2011

Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; [email protected]
Marion Steinfels, SPLC, (334) 956-8417; [email protected]
Vesna Jaksic, ACLU national, (212) 284-7347 or 549-2666; [email protected]
Olivia Turner, ACLU, Alabama, (334) 265-2754 ext. 204; [email protected]

NILC and Civil Rights Coalition Ask Federal Court to Block Anti-Immigrant Law

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The National Immigration Law Center and a coalition of civil rights groups asked a federal judge today to block the state’s anti-immigrant law from taking effect Sept. 1. The law criminalizes Alabamians for everyday interactions with undocumented immigrants and chills access to public schools, making it the most extreme of the five state laws inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070.

Linton Joaquin, general counsel, NILC, said: “Federal courts across the country have rightly stemmed the tide of unconstitutional state attempts to deny countless people of color and those who associate with them their fundamental rights. We are confident that the courts in Alabama will agree that a law that usurps exclusive federal authority and threatens the freedom of Alabamians should not be allowed to go into effect.”

Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said: “Today’s hearing highlighted why Alabama’s law must be stopped in its tracks. The law makes it impossible for immigrant families to go to school, to make a living, to take care of routine business, and even to drive on a public road without fear of being punished under state law. This discriminatory law aims at undocumented immigrants, but catches lawful immigrants and U.S. citizens in the crossfire.” 

Sam Brooke, lead attorney on the case for SPLC, said: “We asked the court to block what is now the harshest anti-immigrant law from taking effect. Not only is Alabama’s law blatantly unconstitutional, it flies in the face of American values by authorizing racial profiling, deterring children from going to school, and criminalizing those who lend a hand to individuals deemed by the state of Alabama to be ‘illegal.’” 

Sin Yen Ling, senior staff attorney, Asian Law Caucus, said: “HB 56 is intended to expel immigrants and must be struck down as unconstitutional.” 

Erin Oshiro, senior staff attorney, Asian American Justice Center, said: “HB 56 will hurt all Alabamians, regardless of their status, and it is intended to create fear and confusion. We are confident the court will agree that this discriminatory law is unconstitutional and must not take effect.” 

Juan Cartagena, president of Latino Justice PRLDEF, said: “Tens of thousands of Latinos in Alabama now await the judge’s decision, fearful that they will have to flee Alabama if the new law goes into effect. But we are confident that the judge understands that the federal law’s mandate is clear, that Alabama cannot build its own immigration system, especially one based on racial divisiveness and one that is designed to harass Latinos and other immigrants so as to drive them out of the State. We will not let that happen.” 

Victor Viramontes, national senior counsel of MALDEF, said: “Alabama’s anti-immigrant law unfairly targets Latinos and violates core constitutional principles. This misguided law mandates racial profiling, interferes with the rights of adults to enter into contracts, and deters children from going to school. The Court should block this divisive law.” 

Jessica Karp, legal counsel, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said: “The courts will show this law is blatantly unconstitutional. Day laborers, like everyone, have the same first amendment rights that cannot be violated.”

The U.S. Department of Justice and a group of Alabama church groups also filed lawsuits against the state. 

Alabama’s law chills children’s access to public schools by requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents; authorizes police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops; and criminalizes Alabamians for ordinary, everyday interactions with undocumented individuals. 

The law is even more restrictive than Arizona’s draconian SB 1070, the anti-immigrant law that served as the inspiration for “papers please” measures in five other states. Federal courts have blocked similar provisions in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia. The coalition has also vowed to challenge South Carolina’s anti-immigrant law. 

Attorneys on the case include Linton Joaquin, Karen C. Tumlin, Tanya Broder, Shiu-Ming Cheer, Melissa S. Keaney, and Vivek Mittal of the National Immigration Law Center; Mary Bauer, Sam Brooke, Andrew Turner, Michelle Lapointe, Dan Werner, and Naomi Tsu of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Cecillia D. Wang, Katherine Desormeau, Kenneth J. Sugarman, Andre Segura, Elora Mukherjee, Omar C. Jadwat, Lee Gelernt, Michael K. T. Tan of the American Civil Liberties Union and Freddy Rubio of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama; Nina Perales, Victor Viramontes, Amy Pedersen, and Martha Gomez of MALDEF; Sin Yen Ling of the Asian Law Caucus; Erin E. Oshiro of the Asian American Justice Center; Foster Maer, Ghita Schwarz and Diana Sen of Latino Justice; Jessica Karp of National Day Laborer Organizing Network; G. Brian Spears, Ben Bruner, Herman Watson, Jr., Eric J. Artrip and Rebekah Keith McKinney. 

View the motion for preliminary injunction (PDF).

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