On July 8, 2011, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project (“IRP”), ACLU Racial Justice Project (“RJP”), the ACLU of Alabama, and coalition partners filed a federal challenge on to Alabama’s anti-immigrant legislation, HB 56. The law’s key provisions sanction discriminatory and unconstitutional practices by police officers, landlords and employers by inviting racial profiling of Latinos and others based on how they look or talk, violating the First Amendment and interfering with federal law. Under the extreme law, Alabama public schools will require children to provide proof of citizenship when enrolling in kindergarten and grade school and require police to demand “papers” from people they stop whom they suspect are not authorized to be in the United States.  As a co-sponsor of the bill boasted, it regulates “every aspect of a person’s life.”  The suit alleges preemption, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and Fourteenth Amendment claims.  The law was scheduled to go into effect on September 1, 2011.

The complaint was filed July 8, 2011, and a motion for preliminary injunction (“PI”) was filed July 21, 2011. The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) filed a complaint and moved for a PI on August 1, 2011. A consolidated PI hearing was held on August 24, 2011. Portions of the PI motion were granted and portions denied on September 28, 2011. The sections enjoined were § 8 (higher education ban); §§ 10(e), 11(e), and 13(h) (state courts shall consider only the federal government’s verification in making immigration status determinations); § 11(a) (criminalizing work if you are undocumented); § 11(f) and (g) (criminalizing soliciting work in a roadway); and § 13 (harboring). Among those not enjoined were § 10 (criminalizing failure to carry federal immigration documents); § 12 (“show me your papers” provision); § 18 (allowing someone found driving without a license to be held 48 hours to have status verified); § 27 (prohibiting state courts from enforcing certain contracts); § 28 (K-12 provision); and § 30 (criminalizing undocumented individuals attempting to enter into “any transaction” with the state).  An interlocutory appeal and emergency motion to stay filed with the district court on September 29, 2011. A stay pending appeal was denied October 5, 2011.

We filed a notice of appeal with the Eleventh Circuit on September 29, 2011 and an emergency motion for an injunction pending appeal (of §§ 10, 12, 18, 27, and 30) on October 7, 2011. On October 14, 2011, the Eleventh Circuit enjoined enforcement of §§ 10 and 28. Oral argument was held on March 1, 2012, after which the Eleventh Circuit, acting sua sponte, issued an order expanding its prior injunction pending appeal to include §§ 27 and 30. The panel stated it would hold the case until after Arizona is decided.

On May 18, 2012, the Alabama Governor signed into law HB658 which amended HB56 in several respects. On May 24, 2012, Alabama filed an opposed motion in the Eleventh Circuit to lift the injunction on § 30, which was substantially amended by HB658. Also on May 24, 2012, Alabama filed a motion in the district court to dissolve or stay the injunction of § 8, which we also opposed. On July 6, 2012, the parties filed supplemental briefs regarding the impact of the Arizona decision.  

On August 20, 2012, the Eleventh Circuit issued opinions in our case and that of the United States. In the United States case, the Eleventh Circuit held that §§ 10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 27, and 30 (as originally enacted) were preempted, but held that §§ 12, 18, and 30 (as amended) were not preempted, at least on the current record. In our case, the Eleventh Circuit held that § 28 violated equal protection; it also held that our claim as to Section 8 was moot in light of HB658.

On September 10, 2012, Alabama filed a Petition for Rehearing en Banc (PFREB) regarding §§ 13 and 27 in the United States case and a PFREB regarding § 28 in our case. Both petitions were subsequently denied. On January 15, 2013, Alabama filed a cert petition with the Supreme Court, but only as to § 13. That petition was denied on April 29, 2013.  

Meanwhile, back in the district court, the injunction as to Section 8 was lifted on March 11, 2013. Other than that, nothing of substance has happened in the district court (in either our case or that of the United States) since October 2011. We were able to negotiate a final settlement which was submitted to the Court.

On November 25, 2013, the Court entered the final order which provided for permanent injunctive relief and assurances that neither state nor local law-enforcements officers have the authority “to stop, detain, arrest, or prolong the detention of any person for the purpose of ascertaining that person’s immigration status or because of a belief that the person lacks lawful immigration status.”

The case is now closed.