11th Circuit Blocks Portions of Harsh Alabama Immigration Law

On Friday, October 14, 2011, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta temporarily blocked important portions of the new Alabama state immigration law.  The Court prohibited, at least temporarily, two key provisions of the bill.  One would criminalize undocumented individuals from being in the state of Alabama, the other required schools to check children’s immigration status prior to enrolling them in schools.

The panel concluded that the federal government and civil rights groups which had challenged the laws demonstrated a “substantial likelihood” that they would prevail, as well as a high likelihood of irreparable harm if the laws went into effect.  In doing so, the Court sided with a lower federal judge who rejected Alabama’s argument that the new law was part of the state’s “traditioinal police powers.”

The Department of Justice had argued that the Alabama laws were unconstitutional and that they invaded the province of Congress as the enforcement of immigration law is a federal issue.