The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] on Friday temporarily blocked [order, PDF] portions of a controversial Alabama immigration law [HB 56 text]. The ruling came in response to a motion filed last week [JURIST report] by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and a coalition of immigrants rights groups after a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama [official websites] twice refused to block the law [JURIST report] from taking effect. The appeals court granted the DOJ's motion to block Section 28, which requires immigration status checks of public school students, and Section 10, which makes it a misdemeanor for an illegal resident not to have immigration papers. The appeals court refused to block provisions that require police to check the immigration status of suspected illegal aliens, bar state courts from enforcing contracts involving illegal immigrants and make it a felony for illegal immigrants to enter into a "business transaction," including applying for a driver's license. The injunction will remain in effect until the Eleventh Circuit hears oral arguments and issues a ruling on the constitutional questions presented by the case.
The state of Alabama responded [JURIST report] to the DOJ's motion earlier this week, arguing that the law is not preempted by federal law and that it is necessary to address the problem of illegal immigrants "taking jobs away from United States citizens and authorized aliens who desperately want to work in these hard economic times." The DOJ, joined by several rights groups, appeared before the district court in August to make arguments against the law's enactment, at which point Chief Justice Sharon Lovelace Blackburn issued a temporary injunction [JURIST reports] to forestall enactment of the challenged provisions. From the time that the legislation was signed into law in June, 16 countries filed briefs [JURIST reports] in the Alabama district court against the controversial law, arguing that it provides unfair treatment to citizens of those countries currently residing in Alabama and sanctions discriminatory treatment based on ethnicity.