Alabama AG recommends changes to state immigration law

[JURIST] Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange [official website] has suggested repealing specific provisions of the state's controversial immigration law [HB 56 text]. Strange sent a letter to leaders of the Alabama legislature [AP report] suggesting the removal of at least two of the sections that are currently on hold as a result of a federal court order. The sections Strange recommended for removal are one which criminalizes the failure of illegal immigrants to carry registration documents and another that requires public schools to collect information regarding the immigration status of their students. Both of these provisions were temporarily blocked [JURIST report] in an October ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website]. Strange's letter was in response to a request [CNN report] by Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh [official website], who had stated earlier that the legislature would only consider changes that were recommended by the attorney general. According to Strange, the proposed changes would allow the law to be more easily defended in court, make implementation easier for law enforcement, and remove certain burdens of compliance on law abiding citizens.

The immigration law has faced numerous challenges in court since it took effect in September. Last month, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] filed a brief [JURIST report] in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit urging the court to strike down the law. The DOJ filed its brief in response to a federal judge's September 28 ruling [opinion text] that allowed the state to enforce a provision that makes it a felony for an illegal alien to conduct business with the state, among other provisions. The DOJ argued in its brief that the Alabama immigration laws are preempted by federal laws regulating immigration in the US because of the Supremacy Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] in the US Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a separate brief also asking the court to overturn the new law. The ACLU's brief argued that the laws are designed to make life in Alabama so difficult for illegal aliens that they will be forced to leave the state [JURIST op-ed]. Like the DOJ, the ACLU argued that Alabama's law is a direct attempt to regulate immigration, which is an area that the states have no legitimate interest in regulating and is left only to the federal government to legislate.

 

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