ACLU and Civil Rights Coalition Ask Court
to Block Alabama’s
Ala. – The American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of other civil rights
groups filed a motion today asking a federal judge to block Alabama’s anti-immigrant law from taking
effect Sept. 1.
The motion for preliminary
injunction, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
Alabama, follows a federal lawsuit the groups filed earlier this month that
charged the law is unconstitutional on multiple grounds. Alabama’s
law, which affects myriad aspects of daily life for countless Alabamians, is
even more restrictive than Arizona’s
infamous SB 1070, which has been blocked by the courts.
“We have already stopped even less
oppressive laws in Arizona, Utah,
Indiana and Georgia,” said Andre Segura, staff attorney with the ACLU
Immigrants’ Rights Project. “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
law was signed into law in June by Gov. Robert Bentley and is the harshest of
copycat state laws.
“This law is not only anti-immigrant,
it is anti-American,” said Olivia Turner, executive director of the ACLU of
Alabama. “It will criminalize Alabamians for everyday interactions with people
who are here without documents, such as driving someone to the grocery store or
to church, and law enforcement officers will be required to violate the
constitutional rights of citizens and non-citizens alike.”
The lawsuit charges that HB 56:
- 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 interactions with undocumented individuals.
- Unconstitutionally interferes with federal
authority over immigration matters – a violation of the Supremacy Clause
of the U.S. Constitution. It also subjects Alabamians – including U.S.
citizens and lawful permanent residents – to unlawful search and seizure,
a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Alabama is one of six states that have
enacted a law emulating Arizona’s
controversial SB 1070. Federal courts have been unanimous in blocking
similar provisions in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia.
The coalition has also vowed to challenge South Carolina’s anti-immigrant law.
“This law flies in the face of the
core rights and liberties our Constitution was designed to preserve,” said
Linton Joaquin, general counsel of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC).
“Alabamians, like all Americans, deserve better than to saddle local teachers,
law enforcement officers, and business people with the additional
responsibility of asking children, customers, and community members for their
‘papers.’ We are hopeful that the court will block this discriminatory and
unconstitutional law before it takes effect and causes irreparable harms for
Sin Yen Ling, senior staff attorney
with the Asian Law Caucus, said: “HB 56 seeks to drive all immigrants out of Alabama. The courts need
to send a strong message that it is not permissible under the law.”
legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), said: “This law so
undermines our core American values of fairness and equality that it is
essential this be weighed before the law is allowed to go into affect,” said
“When the Speaker of the House, who championed this law and guided it to
passage, is acknowledging it has problems, it is clear we have a serious
Erin Oshiro, senior staff attorney at the Asian
American Justice Center,
a member of the Asian American Center
for Advancing Justice, said: “By creating this law, which impacts not just
undocumented immigrants but citizens and legal immigrants who might look “foreign”
or speak with an accent, Alabama
makes all communities less safe. It's sad that Alabama, the site of many historic civil
rights struggles for equality and justice, would enact a law that encourages
racial and ethnic profiling. This unconstitutional measure will impact
more than 46,000 Asian American immigrants, likely damage Alabama's reputation and economy and do
nothing to fix our broken immigration system. We urge Congress to do its job
and fix our immigration laws.”
Cartagena of LatinoJustice PRLDEF said: “Alabama has declared war
on immigrants, primarily Latino immigrants. Every Latino in Alabama, regardless of status, is at risk.
By this motion, we hope to save this State from descending into a racial abyss.
We are confident that the courts and people of Alabama
will stand with us and stop HB 56 from going into effect.”
Attorneys on the case include 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; Mary Bauer, Sam Brooke, Andrew
Turner, Michelle Lapointe, Dan Werner, and Naomi Tsu of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Joaquin, Karen C. Tumlin, Tanya Broder, Shiu-Ming Cheer, Melissa S. Keaney,
and Vivek Mittal of the
National Immigration Law Center; 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; G. Brian Spears, Ben Bruner, Herman
Watson, Jr., Eric J. Artrip and Rebekah
preliminary injunction can be found at: