Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Part of Ala. Immigration Law

The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta Friday temporarily blocked the portion of Alabama’s controversial immigration law that is considered one of the toughest in the nation, putting on hold the enforcement of the mandate that requires the state’s public schools to verify the legal residency of new students.

But other parts of the law, such as allowing police to detain people suspected of being in the state illegally, have been left in place.

The ruling came as the Obama administration and several civil rights groups are trying to stop the law from being enforced, or at least the enforcement of key provisions until the court had time to review the legal arguments presented by the Justice Department.

Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard told The Christian Post, “Well, we’re pleased the majority of the bill was upheld and that the bill still remains intact.”

 “It’s difficult when the federal government will not enforce the laws in our nation and that’s why the state took up the issue this session. Alabama will not be a sanctuary state for illegal aliens and this ruling reinforces that,” he said. “We’re also a bit perplexed and disappointed at the Obama administration’s hypocrisy on this issue. It would be amusing if not so harmful to our country.”

Despite some setbacks for Alabama, the reality is that both sides can claim victory over the ruling.

The Justice Department said, “We are pleased that the Eleventh Circuit has blocked Alabama’s registration provisions which criminalized unlawful presence and chilled access to a public education.”

Since Republicans gained control of the state House last November, the party has been determined to make good on its campaign promises to curb illegal immigration in the state, passing the bill this spring. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who is serving his first term in office, signed the bill saying it was important to protect the jobs of the state’s citizens in a period of economic uncertainly and high unemployment.

Out of the many parts of the law, the portion mandating that schools confirm the legal residency of each new student has generated the most controversy. Some public elementary schools in urban neighborhoods reported withdrawals of Hispanic students after U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace Brown upheld key parts of the bill.

In early October, the Jefferson County School system reported that 139 Hispanic students were absent the first day after the District Court’s ruling and 135 the following day.

Bishop William Willimon of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church also reported that some churches in his conference have experienced a 50 percent drop in attendance since the state legislature began considering the state immigration law.

"Spanish pastors are telling me that people are leaving. Most of the people who are active in these churches are fully documented. Many are leaving, I think, because they are hurt," Willimon told The Christian Post last week.

The ruling is only temporary until the court issues a final decision that will most likely take place in the next few months.

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