Federal Court Blocks Parts of Anti-Immigration Law in Alabama, Georgia

A federal appeals court has blocked several provisions of anti-immigration laws in Alabama and Georgia, while leaving intact each state's so-called “show me your papers” policies — a mixed-bag for those on either side of the heated debate over states' immigration policies.

The decision Monday (August 20) largely fell in line with the U.S. Supreme Court's June  ruling on Arizona's similar law.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit blocked Alabama's requirement that K-12 schools check the immigration status of students, saying that it targets a specific population and “significantly interferes” with a child's right to a public education. The court also blocked sections of the state's law requiring immigrants to carry registration documents and banning Alabamans from entering into contracts while living in the country illegally. 

In Georgia's case, the three-judge panel ruled that the state could not criminalize knowingly transporting or harboring illegal immigrants.

However, the court upheld provisions in Alabama and Georgia's laws allowing police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect to be in the country illegally.

As Stateline has reported, Alabama officials have been slow to roll out the law as it nears a year old, treading carefully due to an initial lack of training and threats of federal lawsuits. 

The court's mixed decision drew praise from those on both sides of the immigration issue.

“The essence of Alabama's immigration law has been upheld by today's ruling,” said Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, in a statement. “The Court is recognizing the state's authority to inquire on immigration status in certain circumstances.”

Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said the decisions “should send a strong message that state attempts to criminalize immigrants and their loved ones will not be tolerated.”

Meanwhile, in Arizona, a federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday over whether Arizona's “show me your papers” provision can be implemented. Although the U.S. Supreme Court already upheld the provision, opponents are using a new set of arguments against it, Reuters reports.

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