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Alabama Asks for En Banc Review of HB 56 Ruling

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on September 12, 2012 4:02 PM

In Chicago, teachers are staying away from school. In Alabama, the governor wants students to stay away.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced this week that the state has filed petitions requesting en banc review of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals' decisions on the Alabama immigration law, WSFA reports. The state claims that court shouldn't have nixed provisions that addressed contracting with illegal immigrants, harboring undocumented immigrants, and verifying school children's immigration statuses.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck the contract provision in March, and ruled in August that the school immigration status verification provision of Alabama's HB 56 violates the Equal Protection Clause.

The student immigration status verification provision, Section 28, requires Alabama's public elementary and secondary schools to request certain documentation from enrolling children in order to classify them as either lawfully or unlawfully present within the United States. While arguably the most controversial provision from HB 56, the state claims the measure was adopted as a cost-saving measure for Alabama public schools.

The federal government challenged Section 28, arguing that it is preempted by 8 U.S.C. § 1643(a)(2), which provides that no federal law "may be construed as addressing alien eligibility for a basic public education as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States under Plyler v. Doe."

Eleventh Circuit Judge Charles R. Wilson wrote in the decision, "Section 28 operates to place undocumented children, and their families, in an impossible dilemma: either admit your unlawful status outright or concede it through silence."

Gov. Bentley, however, maintains that the states' rights should prevail. "We must protect the State of Alabama from the federal government interfering with our ability to enforce our laws ... We owe it to the people of this state to defend the U.S. Constitution and the right of our legislature to make constitutional policy choices," WSFA reports.

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