Alabama Immigration Law Blocked, For Now

Judge Sharon Blackburn has blocked Alabama’s tough new immigration law for 30 days, while she considers arguments for and against a temporary injunction.

The law, scheduled to take effect on Thursday, September 1, sparked controversy in the state and prompted two lawsuits to prevent it from being enforced. Similar to legislation passed in Arizona, Georgia and other states, the Alabama law contains provisions, such as allowing police officers to ask suspected illegals for proof of citizenship, that critics say will lead to racial profiling. The Alabama law would also penalize U.S. citizens who knowingly employ unauthorized workers, and would require schools to ascertain the immigration status of students.

The U.S. Department of Justice sued for a temporary injunction, arguing that immigration law is a federal matter. Local religious leaders also sued, saying the law would prevent them from providing services to illegal immigrants.

Alabama lawmakers praised Judge Blackburn’s deliberateness, while the state attorney general’s office had no comment for the Montgomery Advertiser. One of the suit’s plaintiffs, Professor Pamela Long of Auburn University, told the paper she thinks the delay indicates some parts of the law might ultimately be blocked.

Perhaps in an effort to draw the federal government’s attention to the issue, all 50 states have passed immigration-related legislation this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.