[JURIST] Sixteen countries on Wednesday filed briefs in the US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama [official website] against the controversial Alabama immigration law [HB 56 text] that expands restrictions on undocumented immigrants. Central and South American countries, including Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia, argue that the recently enacted law unfairly treats citizens [Montgomery Advertiser report] of those countries currently residing in Alabama. The law, they argue, sanctions discriminatory treatment based on ethnicity. The countries, who want one immigration law instead of 50, contend that the law raises “substantial challenges” to their relationship with the US. Also on Wednesday, Judge Sharon Blackburn of the Alabama district court consolidated lawsuits challenging the Alabama immigration law brought by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website], the Methodist, Episcopalian and Roman Catholic churches and three dozen plaintiffs represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and National Immigration Law Center (NILC) [advocacy websites].
The Alabama immigration legislation, which was signed into law [JURIST report] by Governor Robert Bentley [official website] in June, is one of the most rigid immigration reform laws passed recently. In addition to authorizing detention of individuals on reasonable suspicion they are illegal immigrants, the law provides harsh restrictions on employment for illegal immigrants. 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. Earlier this week, the DOJ filed [JURIST report] a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] in the Alabama district court. A group of immigrants filed a lawsuit in an Alabama state court [JURIST report] in late July arguing that the Alabama immigration law conflicts with the Alabama Constitution [text], which expressly encourages immigration. The ACLU, the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA) [advocacy websites] and several other civil rights groups jointly filed [JURIST report] a motion for preliminary injunction [text, PDF] earlier in July in an effort to prevent the Alabama immigration law from taking effect. Similar laws have been passed in Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Oklahoma and Utah [JURIST reports]. Federal courts have enjoined the laws in Arizona, Indiana, Georgia, Oklahoma and Utah [JURIST reports].