Update on Alabama’s Controversial Immigration Law, HB 56

On 10/14/11, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta blocked two important provisions of Alabama’s controversial immigration law, HB 56. HB 56 was first signed into law on June 9, 2011 and introduced controversial provisions targeting undocumented immigrants. The law has since been met with great opposition in court by the Department of Justice and other various organizations seeking to stop its enforcement. On 9/28/11, Chief U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn enjoined certain provisions of the law, including the following:

• Section 8: Prohibiting undocumented aliens from attending or enrolling in an Alabama public post-secondary educational institution.
• Section 11(a): Prohibiting undocumented aliens from applying, soliciting, or performing work as an employee or independent contractor.
• Section 11(f): Prohibiting drivers from blocking or impeding traffic while attempting to hire or hiring/picking up passengers for work at a different location.
• Section 11(g): Prohibiting persons from entering a vehicle in order to be hired for work at a different location if the vehicle blocks or impedes traffic.
• Section 13: Prohibiting concealing, harboring, transporting, etc. of undocumented aliens.

However, certain key provisions remained in effect, such as the requirement of schools to identify undocumented students, restriction upon state courts to enforce contracts with undocumented individuals, making entering a business transaction a felony for the undocumented, and permitting local law enforcement to ask for immigration documents and deeming it a misdemeanor for failure to carry such identification.

The most recent developments on 10/14/11 by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals have resulted in the blocking of the following two key provisions:

• Section 10, making it a state crime to be undocumented in the state of Alabama;
• Section 28, requiring public school students to prove their immigration status or be presumed undocumented.

The following two provisions continue to be upheld:

• Section 30, making it a felony for undocumented individuals to enter into business transactions with the state or any subdivision thereof;
• Section 12, allowing local law enforcement to stop, detain, or arrest anyone they suspect of being undocumented.

Map with North America depicted in white, with the most populated cities represented as small black dots, with darker shades indicating higher population density

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