The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a coalition of civil rights groups filed a class action lawsuit on July 8th charging that Alabama’s anti-immigration law is unconstitutional and endangers public safety, invites racial profiling and interferes with federal law.
The lawsuit charges that the law, HB 56, unconstitutionally subjects Alabama residents to unlawful search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The lawsuit also charges the law unconstitutionally deters immigrant families from enrolling their children in public schools; bars many legal immigrants from attending public colleges or universities in Alabama; restricts the right to enter into contracts; and interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters, in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The ACLU charges that the Alabama law is even more restrictive than the Arizona law it was inspired by.
“Alabama has brazenly enacted this law despite the fact that federal courts have stopped each and every one of these discriminatory laws from going into effect,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “Just as we’ve stopped similar draconian laws in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia from going into effect, we will do so here in Alabama as well.”
The Alabama law requires 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 Alabama residents for ordinary, everyday interactions with undocumented individuals.
Alabama is the fifth state to enact a law modeled after Arizona’s SB 1070, parts of which went into effect last year after key provisions of the law were blocked by a federal judge. Following ACLU and NILC lawsuits, federal courts have also blocked implementation of similar laws passed in Utah, Indiana and Georgia. The coalition has announced plans to legally challenge the latest Arizona-inspired law passed in South Carolina.
Plaintiff Matt Webster and his wife are in the process of adopting two boys and establishing the children’s lawful presence based on their American citizenship. Under this law, Mr. Webster would be criminally liable for transporting his own adopted children.
An organizational plaintiff on the case, the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, or “HICA”, is a nonprofit organization that provides a wide range of services, including court advocacy for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, a 24/7 Spanish hotline for immigrant victims of crime, immigration legal services, financial literacy, workforce
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