Alabama Reaches Settlement To Permanently Block Key Provisions Of Anti-Immigration Law

CREDIT: ThinkProgress/ Esther Y. Lee

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CREDIT: Julie Jacobson/ AP

On Tuesday, the state of Alabama reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, civil rights groups, and church leaders to permanently block key provisions of a harsh anti-immigration law that authorized local officials, citizens, and business owners to target undocumented immigrants. The proposed settlement would limit the scope of racial profiling and prohibit local authorities from determining the legal status of immigrants.

Under the settlement, local police can no longer use the previously upheld “show me your papers” provision to check on immigration status during traffic stops. Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project said, “Law enforcement agencies throughout Alabama are on notice — if they detain anyone based on suspicions about immigration status, they will be violating the U.S. Constitution and we will take swift action to protect people’s civil rights against such violations.”

Other blocked provisions include: prohibiting enforcement officials from criminalizing immigrants who do not register their immigration status; requiring schools to verify the immigration status of children enrolled in secondary education; criminalizing people who give rides or rent to undocumented immigrants; criminalizing undocumented immigrants who solicit work through various means.

Among the groups that filed the class action lawsuit are the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU), and Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

After the anti-immigration law was passed in 2011, undocumented immigrants fled the state out of deportation fears. Thousands of children stopped attending school and the state lost workers in agriculture and construction. One economist predicted that Alabama’s economy would shrink by $40 million because undocumented immigrants had been driven out of the state.

Federal courts have blocked similar provisions of other anti-immigration laws in Arizona, South Carolina, and Georgia.