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Federal judge temporarily blocks Alabama immigration law

A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama on Monday issued a temporary injunction [text, PDF] blocking an immigration law that was scheduled to take effect Thursday. "The court will issue detailed Memorandum Opinions and Orders ruling on the merits of the pending Motions for Preliminary Injunction no later than September 28, 2011," Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn wrote in the two-page order. Advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] have been pushing for the court to block [JURIST report] the law [HB 56 text], which permits police officers to detain a person stopped for a traffic violation if the officer has "reasonable suspicion" the person is in the country illegally. The officer must then try to determine the individual's identity by checking other records if the motorist is unable to provide documentation. The bill also requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify system [official website] to determine whether potential employees are legal residents. Businesses cited multiple times for hiring undocumented workers could lose their business licenses. Furthermore, undocumented immigrants are prohibited from applying for a job, and anyone transporting or harboring undocumented immigrants will be punished by a fine or jail time. The ACLU has argued that the law will cause unlawful racial profiling.

In June, the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) [advocacy website] and a coalition of other civil rights groups filed a class action lawsuit challenging a similar Georgia immigration law, which has also been blocked by a judge [JURIST reports]. In May, the US Supreme Court upheld an Arizona employment law [JURIST report] that imposes penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants, ruling that the law is not preempted by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) [text]. The ruling opens the door for states to enact similar restraints on immigration. Several other states have also enacted or proposed [JURIST reports] tough new immigration laws.

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