Rights groups challenge Alabama immigrant ‘black list’

Rights groups challenge Alabama immigrant ‘black list’

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[JURIST] A coalition of rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] on Thursday to block a portion of Alabama’s latest immigration law [HB 658 text] that requires law enforcement to publish a list of immigrants who may be undocumented. HB 658 was signed [JURIST report] by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley [official website] last May and was designed to “simplify and clarify” the state’s existing immigration law [HB 56, PDF]. In a press release, the ACLU criticized the immigrant “black list” which offers no mechanism for persons on the list to challenge their inclusion. Justin Cox, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project said the provision is unconstitutional and called on Alabama to consider alternatives:

This law violates privacy laws and basic constitutional rights, as well as conflicts with fundamental American values of fairness and equality. Instead of moving forward with a mean-spirited law that is doomed to fail, Alabama should join the rest of the country and focus on common-sense reforms that benefit citizens and immigrants alike.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama [official website], asks the court to issue a permanent injunction blocking the provision of the law that mandates the immigrant black list.

Alabama is currently litigating a challenge to another portion of its immigration regulations. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange last month asked the US Supreme Court [JURIST report] to overturn a recent decision striking down provisions of Alabama’s HB 56. The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied a request [JURIST report] by the state of Alabama to reconsider its ruling in November. Alabama’s appeal is from a decision [JURIST report] issued last August by the Eleventh Circuit which struck down several provisions of HB 56, including a provision that requires public schools to check the immigration status of students and makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to solicit work.