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Can Feds Block Alabama Immigration Law?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on October 11, 2011 6:46 AM

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has agreed to expedite an appeal concerning the controversial Alabama immigration law.

On September 28, a lower court declined to grant the Department of Justice an injunction blocking the law's enforcement. The government had requested that it be put on hold until the court could decide on its constitutionality.

The lower court's denial is at odds with decisions blocking similar immigration laws in Arizona and Georgia.

Critics believe that those statutes, as well as the Alabama immigration law, invite racial profiling and discrimination.

In particular, the Justice Department has argued that Alabama's law can be used to target foreign-born citizens, legal residents, and children. This is because it requires law enforcement to detain persons they suspect of being undocumented.

It also requires public schools to verify the immigration status of each student.

Since the law became effective last week, immigrants have fled Alabama. The Justice Department called it "chaos," according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

This is likely why the appellate court has agreed to speed up its process.

An expedited appeal is not an indication of how the court will rule. Instead, it demonstrates an understanding that the issues are of imminent importance. Often, the court will speed up the process when there is a likelihood of significant and widespread harm absent a quick decision.

Constitutional abuses and a mass exodus are good examples of potential harms that need to be dealt with on an expedited schedule.

That schedule was also set by the court last week. Briefs will be due this Wednesday, while the 11th Circuit will hear oral arguments before November 29. A decision on the Alabama immigration law should be made by the end of the year.

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