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Court blocks two portions of Ala. immigration law

From Gustavo Valdes, CNN
updated 6:58 PM EST, Thu March 8, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Federal appeals court blocks two portions of Alabama law
  • That law is considered the toughest in the nation
  • U.S. Supreme Court will decide on Arizona law

Montgomery, Alabama (CNN) -- A federal appeals court in Atlanta on Thursday blocked two more portions of Alabama's tough law against illegal immigration.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily enjoined the enforcement of two provisions: One voiding contracts signed by those in the United States illegally and another that prohibits such persons from having transactions with the state for certain services, such as licenses.

The portion of the law that allows police to detain people who can't provide proof of legal status in the United States will remain in place.

Just last week the appeals court said it would not render an opinion on the challenges to laws against illegal immigration in Georgia and Alabama. The appeals court said it would let the Supreme Court first make a decision in a case regarding a similar law in Arizona.

Jennifer Ardis, a spokeswoman for Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, told CNN Thursday that the governor will continue to tweak portions of the law dealing with contracts and business, but he does not support a total repeal of the law.

Andre Segura, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, hailed the appeals court's action.

"It is a big relief to the people of Alabama. These are two provisions that really struck at the heart of attempting to impact every aspect of an immigrant's life," Segura said.

In a statement, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said the appeals court's ruling that put the two provisions on hold "does not represent a final decision by the court."

"I strongly disagree with the 11th Circuit's decision today to temporarily enjoin two provisions of the immigration law that the District Court upheld," Strange said. "I will continue to vigorously defend Alabama's immigration law in the courts. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court's coming decision in the Arizona case will make clear that our law is constitutional."

Arizona's law, aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration, catapulted the issue onto the national stage in 2010, drawing a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice, which argues the law is unconstitutional. Since then, several other states have passed similar measures.

Alabama's law, known as HB 56, would require police who make lawful traffic stops or arrests to try to determine the immigration status of anyone they suspect might be in the country illegally.

But recently, a federal appeals court at least temporarily blocked some provisions, including one requiring Alabama officials to check the immigration status of children in public schools.

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