Reaction to Alabama immigration ruling hints at battles to come
A federal appeals court temporarily blocked portions of the law, even as it upheld others.
Blocked: The requirement that public schools check students' immigration status; and a provision that would let authorities file misdemeanor charges against immigrants caught without documents proving their legal status.
Upheld: The requirement that police assess drivers' residency status during traffic stops; a provision that makes it a felony for illegal immigrants to enter into “business transactions” with the state, such as applying for driver's or business licenses; and a provision that makes invalid all contracts knowingly entered into with illegal immigrants.
The following public statements capture the disparate reaction of people who feel strongly about the issues involved.
And they likely apture the tone of the fights yet to come.
Republican Gov. Robert J. Bentley:
“Today’s decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is simply one more step in what we knew would be a lengthy legal process. As I have said on many occasions, if the federal government had done its job by enforcing its own immigration laws, we wouldn't be here today. Unfortunately, by failing to do its job, the federal government has left the problem of dealing with illegal immigration to the states. Alabama needed a tough law against illegal immigration. We now have one. I will continue to fight to see this law upheld."
U.S. Department of Justice:
“We are pleased that the 11th Circuit has blocked Alabama’s registration provisions which criminalized unlawful presence and chilled access to a public education. We continue to believe that the other key provisions we challenged are also preempted, and we look forward to the upcoming consideration by the court of appeals of the merits of the appeal.”
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard:
“Once again, we’re pleased that the majority and most effectual parts of this law will remain in place. We’ve said from the beginning that Alabama will have a strict immigration law and we will enforce it. Alabama will not be a sanctuary state for illegal aliens, and this ruling reinforces that.
“We also remain perplexed and disappointed at the Obama administration’s hypocrisy on this issue. It would be amusing if not so harmful to our country. While the federal government sues to prolong and exacerbate the illegal immigration problem, Alabama is taking action to ensure the laws of our land are upheld.”
Andre Segura, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union:
“We’re relieved that the court has blocked the provision of the law that has had such a devastating impact on children’s access to schools in Alabama, but we remain concerned about the provisions that are still in effect and will continue our legal fight.”
Alabama Atty. Gen. Luther Strange:
“We respectfully disagree with the Court of Appeals ruling temporarily enjoining additional sections of the Act, but are pleased that the Court has allowed the State to proceed enforcing some of the Act's central provisions. We will continue to vigorously defend the law as we proceed through the appeals process.”
And, of course, the plaintiffs:
The civil rights coalition that filed suit to block the law includes the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center, ACLU of Alabama, the Asian Law Caucus, the National Day Laborers’ Organizing Network, AAJC, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund:
“We are pleased that the court blocked these damaging elements of the law. But portions of the law that remain in place will continue to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in Alabama. In just two weeks that the law has been in effect, families have been fleeing the state, children have been pulled out of schools, and businesses have been put in jeopardy. This law sadly revisits Alabama’s painful racial past and tramples the rights of all its residents.”
-- Stephen Ceasar
Photo: People listen to others voice concerns about Alabama's strict new immigration law during a town hall meeting Thursday at Glen Iris Elementary School in Birmingham. Credit: Birmingham News,Tamika Moore