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11th Circuit Court of Appeals Blocks Two Provisions of Alabama’s Anti-Immigrant Law, HB 56

by Mahwish Khan on 03/09/2012 at 5:51pm

11th circuitYesterday, the 11th Circuit Court of appeals in Atlanta, Georgia blocked two more parts of the Alabama anti-immigrant law.

Human Rights Watch noted the decision as “a significant victory not just for immigrants but for the rights of all residents of Alabama.” Their press release gives a little more background:

On March 8, 2012, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, US v. Alabama, and Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama v. Bentley, enjoined two key provisions of the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer Citizen and Protection Act: one that barred Alabama courts from enforcing contracts with unauthorized immigrants and another that barred the state from entering into “business transactions” with unauthorized immigrants.

The “business transaction” provision has been the cause of much anguish in Alabama’s immigrant communities. It has kept them from receiving basic services – for example, it was formerly a crime for undocumented immigrants to receive water in their homes. More recently, as The Washington Post reports, it has kept high school students in Pelham, Alabama from putting on their high school play, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”:

A public high school has put the production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” on hold after a New York licensing house that owns the rights to the play refused to submit a document required under the immigration law.

The licensing company, Tams-Witmark Music Library Inc., relented and submitted the document Friday following inquiries from The Associated Press, school officials said.

Pelham High School still must purchase the rights to the play, which can cost more than $1,200, before the show will go on.

Acting groups — even student theater troupes — must pay for the right to use scripts or risk lawsuits.

Rehearsals had been going on for weeks before the company’s initial move forced teachers to pull the plug, frustrating student actors.

“They, and their teachers, have already put in many hours of preparation and hard work to have it taken away from them because of politics,” said Donna Vildibill, whose son Andy was cast as piano-playing Schroeder in the musical. “As usual, it’s the children that get the raw end of any deal in Alabama.”

The decision to enjoin these two provisions could also effect Georgia, which passed an anti-immigrant bill that had peaches rotting long before Alabama did. 

From GPB News:

Immigration attorney Charles Kuck says the decision sends a clear message to Georgia Lawmakers.

“The court of appeals is in agreement that states should not and cannot be meddling in federal immigration laws,” says Kuck.

Kuck says this week’s decision validates concerns in Georgia.

“The state legislature would be better focused in demanding that our federal legislators actually focus on real immigration reform,” Kuck added.

The 11th Circuit Court’s decision yesterday couldn’t have been better timed, coming right after the Selma to Montgomery March’s “immigrant rights day.”  Immigrant rights activists who were participating were able to celebrate the news together, as the blog, Feet in 2 Worlds, reports:

The news ricocheted through Twitter and the immigration rights blogosphere. Dan Werner, deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who was attending the civil rights march, tweeted:

VICTORY! Fed app court halts enforcement of contracts & business sections of #hb56. Cheers erupt across the march. #selma2012#CrisisAL

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