A federal judge in Louisiana ruled [text, PDF] against the state on Tuesday in a constitutional challenge to a law [text] that requires naturalized citizens who were born outside the US to present a valid birth certificate from their home country before they can obtain a marriage license. In his ruling, Judge Ivan Lemelle from the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [officialwebsite] granted a permanent injunction against the implementation of Act 436, a Louisiana law that easily passed both houses of state government [vote count] and became law in 2015. The plaintiff in the lawsuit, who immigrated to the US with his parents when he was three months old, did not have a birth certificate because he was born in an Indonesian refugee camp, according to the ruling. He was denied a marriage license under Act 436, which “requires that all applicants for a marriage license provide a certified birth certificate, a valid and unexpired passport, or an unexpired visa accompanied by a Form I-94,” documents he could not obtain on account of the circumstances of his birth. The judge denied the state’s argument that a permanent injunction would be a disservice to the public interest.
In the instant matter the permanent injunction protects the fundamental right to marriage and the right to be free from unconstitutional discriminatory classifications based on national origin. Consequently, this factor also weighs in favor of Plaintiff and his motion for a permanent injunction is deemed appropriate.
Because the challenge to the law was a facial challenge, the ruling permanently enjoins and restrains future implementation of Act 436. A preliminary injunction against implementation of the law had been granted [JURIST report] by the same federal court in March.
The focus on immigration policies continues to be a growing legal issue. In April US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced [JURIST report] his office has mandated immigration enforcement as a priority. JURIST Guest Columnist Ali Khan discussed [JURIST backgrounder] the potential deportation of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US as a crime against humanity. Also in April, A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesman announced [JURIST report] that President Donald Trump’s administration was no longer planning to separate women and children at the US’ southern border as a means of deterring immigration. That same month, the state of Massachusetts requested [JURIST report] the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court find that state authorities lack jurisdiction to detain illegal immigrants. A day earlier, the California State Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill [JURIST report] on last Monday that would expand protections for undocumented immigrants by prohibiting state or local law enforcement from using resources to investigate, detain, report or arrest people for immigration violations