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Federal judge blocks Ala. illegal immigration law

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Federal judge blocks Ala. illegal immigration law

Legislation on temporary hold by Obama administration lawsuit

  • Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley speaks to the press in May.
    AlabamaEMA/FlickrAlabama Gov. Robert Bentley speaks to the press in May.

A federal judge on Monday temporarily put on hold Alabama's tough new immigration law. The law was set to go into effect on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn said that she needed more time to consider lawsuits filed against the law by the Obama administration, bishops from Alabama’s Catholic, United Methodist and Episcopal churches and civil-rights groups, according to the Associated Press.

Monday's ruling did not address whether Blackburn thinks the law is constitutional, and all or part of the law can still go into effect. Blackburn now has until September 28 to issue a longer ruling, and her temporary hold will remain in effect until the day after, the AP said.

The ruling was cheered both by Republican leaders who were pleased the judge didn't gut the law and by opponents who compare it to old Jim Crow-era statutes against racial integration.

According to Politico, the Alabama law is considered tougher and more restrictive than the one in Arizona that made headlines last year. The Alabama law allows police officers to arrest a person suspected of being an illegal immigrant during a traffic stop, makes it a crime to knowingly assist an illegal immigrant and requires schools to verify students' immigration status. The multiple lawsuits against the law were consolidated for the motions seeking a preliminary injunction against it.

Both supporters and opponents of the law welcomed Blackburn's hold.

"We are pleased that Judge Blackburn is taking more time to study the case," Isabel Rubio, executive director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, one of the group's suing against the law, told the AP.

According to The Huntsville Times, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley "released a statement saying he looked forward to Blackburn's ruling on the merits of the case." Speaker of the Alabama House Mike Hubbard and State Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh released similar statements.

"Judge Blackburn clearly understands the complexity of this issue and we are encouraged by her willingness to carefully examine all aspects of the case prior to ruling," Marsh said.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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