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Alabama appeals ruling on immigration law

updated 11:03 AM EDT, Tue September 11, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "We are filing this based on principle," Alabama's governor says
  • A three-judge panel struck down portions of the Alabama law in August
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center calls the law "illegal and immoral"

(CNN) -- Alabama officials Monday asked the full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate portions of a tough law targeting illegal immigrants after a three-judge panel blocked those provisions.

"We are filing this based on principle," Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican, said in a statement announcing the move. "As the governor of Alabama, I have a duty to uphold and defend Alabama law. Federal courts should not restrain state governments in a way that is contrary to the U.S. Constitution."

The Obama administration took Alabama to court over the law, arguing that the legislation and a similar act in Georgia law encroached on federal authority.

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The judges blocked parts of the Alabama law in August, including language that makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to work or solicit work; imposed criminal penalties to hide "an alien" or rent property to anyone in the United States illegally; and required state officials to check the immigration status of children in public schools.

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The judges let stand one of the most controversial portions of the law, allowing local and state police check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws. The ruling followed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld a similar law in Arizona despite a federal challenge.

Mary Bauer, the legal director for the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center, called the law "illegal and immoral" and said the center was confident the judges' ruling would stand.

"We are disappointed that the state is continuing to stand behind this unjust and hateful law, which has brought so much shame and ridicule upon the state," Bauer said in a written statement.

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CNN's Catherine Shoichet and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

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