The Department of Justice challenged the state of Alabama’s recently passed immigration law, H.B. 56, in federal court.
In a complaint and brief filed in the Northern District of Alabama, the department said that various provisions of H.B. 56 conflict with federal immigration law and undermine the federal government’s careful balance of immigration enforcement priorities and objectives. The brief filed today makes clear that, while the federal government values state assistance and cooperation with respect to immigration enforcement, a state cannot set its own immigration policy, much less pass laws that conflict with federal enforcement of the immigration laws.
Alabama’s law is designed to affect virtually every aspect of an unauthorized immigrant’s daily life, from employment to housing to transportation to entering into and enforcing contracts to going to school. H.B. 56 further criminalizes mere unlawful presence and, like Arizona’s law, expands the opportunities for Alabama police to push aliens toward incarceration for various new immigration crimes by enforcing an immigration status verification system.
Consistent with the department’s position in United States v. Arizona, in which the department last year successfully obtained a preliminary injunction against Arizona’s S.B.
1070, the brief said that the mandates that H.B. 56 imposes on Alabama law enforcement may also result in the harassment and detention of foreign visitors, legal immigrants and even U.S. citizens who may not be able to readily prove their lawful status. In addition, H.B. 56 will place significant burdens on federal agencies, diverting their resources away from dangerous criminal aliens and other high-priority targets.