After its immigration law had mostly been gutted by recent decisions in federal court, the state of Alabama agreed to meet on Tuesday to settle the final challenges remaining by the law’s challengers. The law, which had been considered the toughest crackdown in the nation against illegal immigration, would have seen school children have their citizenship status reviewed, among other measures. .
The proposed settlements that aim to end the stalemate were filed by American Civil Liberties Union and the state. The details of the settlement’s provisions included the blocking of such controversial provisions as the “show me your papers” provision. The fate of the law comes as a blow to state based anti-immigration groups. The same kinds of immigration laws have been passed in Georgia, South Carolina and Arizona, all of which have faced legal challenge.
According to ACLU lawyer Cecilia Wang, this is an important win for all the immigrant families who live in Alabama, and to all who care about the immigrants’ rights. The new Alabama agreement will alleviate the fears of Alabama immigrants, who were afraid of being detained as a result of the “show me your papers” provision.
Some sections of the law that were halted temporarily by the courts will now be permanently blocked with the new agreement. Also, Alabama will agree to pay $350,000 in lawyer fees from groups who were challenging the law.
Luther Strange, the Attorney General for the state, claims that the law was vital for the protection of the jobs and rights of the legal residents of Alabama. Gov. Robert Bentley, who signed the law, and other supporter, agreed. Strange said immigration policy is now the responsibility of Washington, and that Washington has to enforce the immigration laws of the country. Governor Bentley remained quiet about the developments.
The implementation of the law had been stayed by the courts, causing it to never fully take effect. As a result of the law, many immigrants had fled the state, only to return when it became clear that the law would not immediately go into effect. Agricultural leaders were also critical of the law. They complained about their difficulty in harvesting crops due to the lack of labor by migrants.
The Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center is now pushing for a full repeal of the law, considering the court challenges and the current deal which is in the works. Kristi Graunke, an attorney for Southern Poverty, said that they had warned the legislature that they would sue the state and win if Alabama decided to move forward with the “draconian” law.
The defeat of the Alabama law has shown that the tide is turning toward a common sense immigration policy in the U.S. Still, much work remains to be done. As an immigration attorney in Austin, I have the experience, knowledge, and compassion to help with any immigration issue you may have. Call me now for assistance with your immigration problem (512) 215-5225.