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Justice Department Challenges Alabama Immigration Law

Justice Department Challenges Alabama Immigration Law

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Published by FindLaw
The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit seeking to block enforcement of Alabama's tough new immigration law, HB 56. The Department's complaint alleges that regulation of immigration is reserved for the federal government, thus federal law preempts HB 56 and renders it invalid.
The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit seeking to block enforcement of Alabama's tough new immigration law, HB 56. The Department's complaint alleges that regulation of immigration is reserved for the federal government, thus federal law preempts HB 56 and renders it invalid.

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Published by: FindLaw on Aug 02, 2011
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTNORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMASOUTHERN DIVISION____________________________________)UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ))Plaintiff, ))v. ) Case No. _____________) COMPLAINTSTATE OF ALABAMA & GOVERNOR )ROBERT J. BENTLEY , ))Defendants. ))____________________________________ )
Plaintiff, the United States of America, by its undersigned attorneys, bringsthis civil action for declaratory and injunctive relief, and alleges as follows:
INTRODUCTION
 1. In this action, the United States seeks to declare invalid and preliminarilyand permanently enjoin the enforcement of various provisions of House Bill 56, asamended and enacted by the State of Alabama, because those provisions
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For brevity’s sake, this Complaint will use the term, “H.B. 56,” to refer to thechallenged provisions of the law except where the context provides otherwise.
arepreempted by federal law and therefore violate the Supremacy Clause of theUnited States Constitution.
FILED
2011 Aug-01 PM 03:10U.S. DISTRICT COURTN.D. OF ALABAMA
Case 2:11-cv-02746-WMA Document 1 Filed 08/01/11 Page 1 of 45
 
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2. In our constitutional system, the federal government has preeminentauthority to regulate immigration matters. This authority derives from the UnitedStates Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. The nation’s immigration lawsreflect a careful and considered balance of national law enforcement, foreignrelations, and humanitarian interests. Congress has assigned to the United StatesDepartment of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and Department of State, along with other federal agencies, the task of enforcing and administeringthese immigration-related laws. In administering these laws, the federal agenciesbalance the complex — and often competing — objectives that animate federalimmigration law and policy. Although a state may exercise its police power in amanner that has an incidental or indirect effect on aliens, it may
not 
establish itsown immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with thefederal immigration laws. The Constitution and federal immigration laws do notpermit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policiesthroughout the country.3. Despite the preeminent federal authority and responsibility overimmigration, the State of Alabama recently enacted H.B. 56, a sweeping set of provisions that are designed to address numerous aspects of immigration regulationand enforcement. According to Alabama State Representative and bill co-sponsor
Case 2:11-cv-02746-WMA Document 1 Filed 08/01/11 Page 2 of 45
 
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Mickey Hammon, the purpose of the law is “to prevent illegal immigrants fromcoming to Alabama and to prevent those who are here from putting down roots.”Julia Preston,
 In Alabama, a Harsh Bill for Residents Here Illegally
, New York Times, June 3, 2011.
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Available at 
: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/04/us/04immig.html
Representative Hammon stated that he believed that H.B. 56would make unlawfully present aliens’ lives “difficult and they will deportthemselves.”
 Id.
H.B. 56’s provisions, working in concert and separately, seek topunish unlawful entry and presence by requiring, whenever practicable, thedetermination of immigration status during any lawful stop by the police wherethere is “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is unlawfully present, and byestablishing new state punitive and criminal sanctions against unlawfully presentaliens. The mandate to enforce H.B. 56 to the fullest extent possible is reinforcedby a provision allowing for any legal resident of Alabama to file suit against anystate or local authority that “adopt[s] or implement[s] a policy or practice thatlimits or restricts the enforcement of this act to less than the full extent permittedby this act.” Ala. H.B. 56 § 6(d). Any such authority held liable would face civilpenalties of between $1,000 and $5,000 “for each day that the practice or policyhas remained in effect after the filing of an action” for under-enforcement. Personsworking for state or local authorities have an affirmative duty to report violationsof H.B. 56 where the person has “reasonable cause to believe” that H.B. 56 is
Case 2:11-cv-02746-WMA Document 1 Filed 08/01/11 Page 3 of 45

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