Alabama officials want a federal court to allow the new state law cracking down on illegal immigration to take effect on Sept. 1. The Obama Administration, as well as civil rights groups, have filed suits seeking to block the measure, which allows police to detain anyone they suspect is undocumented. Among other things, the law also calls for penalties for harboring, employing and transporting undocumented immigrants.Efe
Alabama officials are fighting the assertion by civil rights groups that the state’s new immigration law will lead to profiling, and they’re pushing for the law to be implemented on Sept. 1.
The officials are asking U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn to let the law – said to be the nation’s toughest on illegal immigration at the state-level – take effect in a few weeks.
The request was made in an official response by the officials to the three federal lawsuits that seek to stop all or parts of the new law.
The three lawsuits were filed by the Obama administration, a coalition of Alabama civil rights groups and by state religious leaders. They have been consolidated before Blackburn, who has scheduled a hearing for Aug. 24 in Birmingham on a request that she block the new law from taking effect.
The Birmingham News reported on the response on Monday. It was prepared by attorneys for Gov. Robert Bentley and other state officials.
The lawsuit filed by the Obama administration claims that the Alabama law deals with issues that are the responsibility of the federal government.
But in the response, state officials say the law was written to work alongside federal statutes and that some of the language is identical to that in federal immigration law.
The filing by state officials says the Alabama law "in no way determines who should or should not be admitted into the country. On the contrary, the law defers to federal categories of immigration status and the federal government's determination of any particular alien's immigration status."
The groups suing to block the law had expressed concern about a provision that requires schools to report the immigration status of students. Opponents have said that requirement would discourage parents, even those in the country legally, from sending their children to school.
The state's response says the new law requests information on how many children are enrolled without a birth certificate, but also says that no child shall be denied admission because of failure to provide one.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit by the civil rights groups include a number of anonymous immigrant plaintiffs who are only called John or Jane Doe. The state's response says some of those plaintiffs may be in the country illegally and that would make the lawsuit invalid.
In addition, Mexico and 15 Central American and South American countries have asked the federal court to consider their briefs in support of the lawsuits challenging Alabama’s law.
Mexico's brief says the law undermines U.S.-Mexico relations.
Mexico asks in its friend of the court brief that the federal court declare Alabama's law unconstitutional.
The brief by Mexico and the request to have it included in the case was filed Wednesday. The governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay also filed a motion seeking to join Mexico's brief.
This story contains material from The Associated Press.