Friday, July 8, 2011

Alabama HB56: Constitutional Challenge to Alabama Immigration Law

Alabama's HB56, signed into law in June, and being touted as the "nations' toughest immigration law," has been challenged in federal court. 

Alabama Map

The Alabama statute, slated to become effective September 1, joins other state statutes such as Arizona's SB1070, partially enjoined with the injunction upheld on appealIndiana's statute enjoined last month; and Georgia's statute also enjoined last month.

Alabama's statute shares many of the constitutional problems of the Arizona, Indiana, and Georgia statutes.

One of the more controversial requirements includes "record-keeping" by public schools: 

Every public elementary and secondary school in this state, at the time of enrollment in kindergarten or any grade in such school, shall determine whether the student enrolling in public school was born outside the jurisdiction of the United States or is the child of an alien not lawfully present in the United States and qualifies for assignment to an English as Second Language class or other remedial program.

Other provisions criminalize harboring or transporting an "alien," a provision that could criminalize citizens assisting non-citizen family members, mandatory use of E-verify by employers, and criminal solicitation provisions.

The 118 page complaint in  Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama v. Bentley, filed on behalf of several organizations, represented by organizations including the Southern Poverty Law Center, has eight constitutional claims including claims under the Supremacy Clause (arguing that the state law is pre-empted); Fourth Amendment; Equal Protection Clause; Due Process Clause;  First amendment claims including speech, assembly, and petition clauses, and the Contracts Clause.  The Complaint also includes two interesting Sixth Amendment claims:

HB 56 violates the Confrontation Clause because a defendant would be prohibited from confronting the witness who prepared the federal government verification, and the state court is prohibited from considering any evidence except for the federal government verification.

HB 56’s criminal provisions violate the Compulsory Process Clause (as well as the Due Process Clause) because a defendant would be prohibited from presenting a defense on the issue of whether he or she possesses lawful immigration status.

Whether or not the Alabama statute is enjoined as similar statutes have been, the issue of the ability of states to pass immigration measures - - - and the scope of any measures - - - is sure to reach the United States Supreme Court, yet again.

RR
[image: flag map of Alabama via]

 

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