17 October 2011

Court backs Obama in opposing Alabama immigration law

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A federal court of appeal has upheld the Obama Administration's objection to parts of an anti-illegal immigration policy adopted in the state of Alabama.

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A federal court of appeal has temporarily blocked aspects of Alabama's controversial illegal immigration law.

Parts of Alabama's strict immigration law - which allows for routine US visa checks in schools, workplaces and public spaces - have been rejected by a federal court on Friday, vindicating the position of the US President Barack Obama and US Justice Department.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that it is unlawful for schools to stop illegal immigrant students from attending class as stipulated by the Alabama immigration law. The court has also prohibited the ability of Alabama police to charge people for not holding valid immigration documents.

"We are pleased that the Eleventh Circuit has blocked Alabama's registration provisions which criminalized unlawful presence and chilled access to a public education," the US Justice Department said in a statement issued after the ruling.

However, while the court has rejected these key aspects of the Alabama law, the decision is not a complete victory for the US Justice Department or migrants' groups that support the repeal of the law. The blocking of the legislation is only temporary and allows the court to review arguments over coming months.

Furthermore, other aspects of the law have been upheld such as the ability to search and detain (but not charge) suspected illegal immigrants and refuse to distribute drivers licenses, identification cards and license plates to known illegal immigrants.

The Obama Administration brought legal action against the law in June, arguing that it contravenes federal immigration law and sets a precedent for racial profiling.

The Alabama state legislature has vowed to fight for the right to determine its own immigration policy. "We’ve said from the beginning that Alabama will have a strict immigration law and we will enforce it," said Republican Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.

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