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Responses to “Outrageous Ruling” on Alabama’s Immigration Law: “Implications Of This are Terrifying”

by Mahwish Khan on 09/29/2011 at 10:12am

Alabama

Yesterday, a Federal District Court Judge in Alabama delivered a decision that will have an immediate negative impact on immigrants and Latinos in that state. Judge Blackburn upheld some of the most egregious sections of Alabama’s punitive and discriminatory immigration law.

As Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund said, “This is an ugly law and an outrageous ruling.  The federal government is in charge of immigration policy and it is the federal government’s job to fix what is broken. State laws like Alabama’s won’t fix anything; they just make a bad system worse and pit groups against each other.  The Alabama law plays to Americans’ worst fears rather than our best instincts.  We need to demand more from our representatives, both in the statehouses and in Congress.”  

The ruling will allow the state to require cops to demand “papers, please” from anyone they suspect may be undocumented, and require public schools to demand documentation from parents of all children in K-12 programs.  The ruling will also allow provisions in the Alabama law to go forward that void any contract signed by an undocumented person and make it a felony for any undocumented immigrant to apply for a driver’s license or even a license plate.

Here’s some of the coverage from around the blogosphere. 

David Dayen’s post at Firedoglake, Ruling on Alabama Immigration Law Validates “Papers Please” Aspects of SB 1070, captures the serious problems with the law and the ruling:

[Judge Blackburn] enjoined enforcement of the part that could get a church in trouble for feeding an undocumented immigrant. But she allowed the signature piece of the law that got Arizona in such high-profile trouble with SB1070, the “papers please” ability for a cop to stop anyone they suspect of being undocumented and check immigration status. This seems like a really wrong ruling, empowering state officials to perform a federal immigration function.

I wonder how much Secure Communities, which forces local law enforcement to pass up fingerprint information to the federal authorities so Homeland Security can check immigration status, will come into play in any appeals process. The argument against a law like Alabama’s is that it turns local law enforcement into a federal immigration official. But if they’re essentially doing that through Secure Communities, it’s harder to argue that Alabama shouldn’t be allowed to skip a step.

Either way, the implications of this are terrifying. I wouldn’t want to drive as a Hispanic in Alabama, because seemingly just forgetting my ID could land me in Mexico. I wouldn’t want do much of anything in Alabama as a Hispanic, because clearly the authorities will have a heightened sensitivity toward me. And this is playing out. Produce is rotting in the fields in Alabama because farmers cannot find the migrant labor to pick the crops.

At Think Progress, Ian Millhiser’ post, Judge Rejects DOJ’s Challenge To Alabama’s War On Immigrant Schoolchildren, states:

Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn, a George H.W. Bush appointee, just issued an opinion striking down parts of Alabama’s newly-enacted anti-immigrant law. Although the opinion blocks several of the law’s provisions, including the provision making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work, the opinion leaves untouched a provision of Alabama law requiring public schools to systematically determine the immigration status of public school students and to report the number of undocumented students in their district to the state.

Very few undocumented families will be willing to send their children to public school if the school is collecting data on whether or not they should be deported. Accordingly, today’s decision is a victory for Alabama’s efforts to intimidate undocumented families from sending their children to school, and will almost certainly encourage state lawmakers who share Alabama’s hostility towards immigrants to enact copycat laws. 

At NewsTaco, Sara Inés Calderón writes:

So why do you care about this immigration law? I would say these should be your top reasons:

–If you’re Latino, this law means cops and other authorities can make your life very difficult.

–After all, Alabama doesn’t exactly have a tidy record when it comes to not being racist towards Latinos.

–“Immigration” is a code often used to talk about “those people,” you know, Latinos.

–If you think that Alabama’s, Arizona’s and Georgia’s immigration laws are about “the law,” and not about anti-Latino sentiment, you’re sadly mistaken.

Sara concludes: 

It’s a sad day, if you ask me, ’cause I’m not a lawyer, but I remember learning about search and seizure and free market capitalism in school and some of these laws seem, well, to conflict with those lessons I learned in school. There are currently at least three lawsuits against this law, we’ll see how it turns out.

And, from Alabama, Mooncat at Left in Alabama wrote in a post titled Judge Blackburn’s Ruling On Alabama Immigration Law:

As a citizen, I’m very disappointed that Judge Blackburn has upheld the sections of HB56 that criminalize failure to carry documents, invite law enforcement to use profiling to determine citizenship, void contracts, and require educators to become immigration enforcers.

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