U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an order temporarily halting two more sections of the Alabama Immigration law known as HB 56. The two blocked sections include a provision that prevents courts from enforcing contracts between an undocumented immigrant and a legal resident or citizen, and another section criminalizing the act of conducting business in Alabama while undocumented.
The practical application of the second blocked portion has far reaching consequences. For example, hypothetically, if a German executive for Mercedes-Benz working at the Alabama manufacturing plant falls out of immigration status due to a clerical error relating to the filing of immigration paperwork, and continues to work in the United States they would become subject to criminal prosecution for a felony.
If this provision stands Mercedes-Benz better hope their attorney doesn't make any mistakes filing paperwork.
Here is a list of sections of HB 56 that Judge Blackburn has also temporarily blocked:
- Sections relating to the harboring, transportation, or encouragement of illegal immigrants in the State of Alabama;
- Sections creating tax penalties for employers;
- A requirement for schools to check students' immigration status;
- Sections criminalizing the act of looking for work without employment authorization; and
- A provision that prevents undocumented immigrants from attending State Universities.
The provision of HB 56 requiring law enforcement officers to determine the citizenship and immigration status of individuals encountered or arrested should the officer maintain a "reasonable suspicion" that the individual is in the country illegally remains in effect.
The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on Arizona's immigration law (SB 1070) next month. The decision on the Arizona case will most likely directly impact the constitutionality of Alabama's immigration law, and it is safe to say that Judge Blackburn is waiting to see what the Supreme Court does before issuing a decision.
Interesting times we are living in.
Matthew Kolken is a trial lawyer with experience in all aspects of United States Immigration Law including Immigration Courts throughout the United States, and appellate practice before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Courts of Appeals. He is admitted to practice in the courts of the State of New York , the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).