July 2, 2012 Attorney General Luther Strange501 Washington AvenueMontgomery, AL 36104Dear Attorney General Strange:On June 25, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in
Arizona v. United States
,No. 11-182, concerning the constitutionality of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, the inspirationfor Alabama’s. The Court’s decision found that federal law clearly preempted most of Arizo-na’s law and established the federal government’s “broad, undoubted power over the subjectof immigration and the status of aliens.” Slip op. at 2.On the question of whether federal law preempted Arizona’s mandate that law enforcementofcers attempt to verify immigration status during stops and detentions upon “reasonablesuspicion” that an individual is unlawfully in the United States, the Court made clear that“[d]etaining individuals solely to verify their immigration status would raise constitutionalconcerns” and that “it would disrupt the federal framework to put state ofcers in the posi-tion of holding aliens in custody for possible unlawful presence without federal directionand supervision.”
at 22. The Court also discussed the constitutional problem that wouldarise if, “in practice, state ofcers will be required to delay the release of some detainees[stopped for non-immigration reasons] for no reason other than to verify their immigrationstatus.”
. The Court expressly refrained from denitively upholding the law enforcement verication mandate at issue in
and instead “counsel[ed] caution in evaluating the”statute’s validity.
at 23. It expressly left open the prospect of “other preemption and con-stitutional challenges to the law as interpreted and applied after it goes into effect.”
at 24.Sections 12 and 18 of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law are analogous to Arizona’s vericationmandate. It is essential that you, as the chief law enforcement ofcer of the state, provideguidance so that Alabama’s provisions are not enforced in a manner inconsistent with theU.S. Supreme Court opinion.We call upon you to issue guidance to Alabama’s law enforcement agencies regarding thepractical applications of Alabama’s law enforcement verication mandates, Ala. Code §§31-13-12 and 32-6-9. We also call upon you to explain clearly how your ofce will ensurethat law enforcement ofcers throughout the state will neither engage in racial proling toenforce these provisions, nor engage in unlawful detention to ascertain individuals’ immigra-tion status.
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Southern Poverty Law Center400 Washington AvenueMontgomery, AL 36104334.956.8200www.splcenter.org