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Settlement would block controversial parts of Alabama immigration law

By Catherine E. Shoichet and Gustavo Valdes, CNN
updated 7:30 PM EDT, Tue October 29, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Alabama agrees a judge should block enforcement of some parts of the law
  • Attorney general: "It is up to Washington ... to enforce the country's immigration laws"
  • Civil rights groups call the settlement agreement a victory

(CNN) -- Some of the most controversial parts of Alabama's immigration law could soon be off the table for good, according to a settlement deal filed in federal court Tuesday.

State officials agreed to block the enforcement of portions of the law, which was described as one of the nation's toughest measures aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration when it passed in 2011.

The proposed deal blocks several parts of the law, including a requirement for public schools to collect information on the immigration status of students; a provision that criminalized the solicitation of work by undocumented immigrants; and a section that prohibited giving a ride to undocumented immigrants.

The agreement, which must be approved by the court, also says the law does not authorize police to detain someone for the sole purpose of checking immigration status.

Civil rights groups that sued the state over the law, known as HB 56, described the settlement deal as a "significant victory."

"We warned the legislature when they were debating HB 56 that if they passed this draconian law, we would sue in court and win," said Kristi Graunke, an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center. "That we have done. Now it is time for our state lawmakers to repeal the remnants of HB 56 and for our congressional delegation to support meaningful immigration reform that will fix our broken system."

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said in a written statement that his office had vigorously defended the law in federal and appellate courts.

"The courts have upheld most of the Act but have also made clear that some provisions are invalid. We have a duty to follow the law as set forth by the courts," Strange said. "The filings made today inform the trial court of which claims must be dismissed and which provisions our of law cannot be enforced because of the Supreme Court's and Eleventh Circuit's rulings. It is up to Washington to fulfill its responsibility to enforce the country's immigration laws."

As part of the deal, Alabama agrees to pay $350,000 in legal fees and expenses for groups that sued to block the law.

The agreement comes nearly six months after the Supreme Court refused to review Alabama's law and just days after U.S. President Barack Obama renewed a push to drum up support for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws.

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