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Court blocks parts of Ala. immigration law

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Court blocks parts of Ala. immigration law

Schools can't demand information on students' status

  • Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley speaks to the press in May. Bentley signed Alabama's new immigration legislation into law on June 9.
    AlabamaEMA/FlickrAlabama Gov. Robert Bentley speaks to the press in May. Bentley signed Alabama's new immigration legislation into law on June 9.

A federal appeals court panel has blocked Alabama from enforcing some controversial provisions of its new immigration law, in response to requests from the U.S. Justice Department and a coalition of human rights groups.

While the appeals court reviews the legislation, illegal immigrants will not have to carry identification and schools will not be required to collect information on the immigration status of their students, USA Today reports. Both are provisions of Alabama's harsh new immigration law, signed by state Gov. Robert Bentley on June 9.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek:

The federal government and the rights groups showed a "substantial likelihood" they would win their challenges to the barred provisions of the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act and a likelihood of irreparable harm if those measures were enforced, the three-judge panel said. The rulings are provisional and remain in effect only until the appellate court considers the underlying legal challenges.

However, the appeals court said Alabama can enforce other sections of the law that the U.S. government wanted blocked, CNN reports.

Effective immediately, police must follow the law's instructions to "attempt to determine the immigration status of a person who they suspect is an unauthorized alien of this country," according to CNN. Also, state courts can no longer enforce some contracts involving undocumented immigrants, and it's now a felony for illegal immigrants to apply for or renew drivers' licenses, identification cards or license plates in Alabama.

There are between 75,000 and 160,000 illegal immigrants in Alabama, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, Reuters reports.

Both sides talked up their victories.

"Once again, we're pleased that the majority and most effectual parts of this law will remain in place," Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, a Republican, told Reuters.

"We are pleased that the Eleventh Circuit has blocked Alabama's registration provisions which criminalized unlawful presence and chilled access to a public education," the Justice Department said in an e-mailed statement, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. "We continue to believe that the other key provisions we challenged are also preempted, and we look forward to the upcoming consideration by the court of appeals of the merits of the appeal."

The appeals court has said it would deal with this case on an expedited basis, perhaps as early as December, CNN reports.

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