On August 1, 2011, the United States filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama under the Immigration and Nationality Act against the State of Alabama for declaratory and injunctive relief. The U.S. sought to prevent the implementation of the recently enacted state legislation H.B. 56, arguing it was preempted by federal law and therefore in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
H.B. 56 was designed to address numerous aspects of immigration regulation and enforcement. H.B 56’s provisions require, whenever practicable, the determination of immigration status during any lawful stop by the police where there is “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is unlawfully present. The United States claimed that the emphasis on maximum enforcement of immigration status laws ignores other objectives that Congress has established for the federal immigration system and undermines the federal government’s balance of immigration objectives and priorities.
On August 2, 2011, the district court (Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn) consolidated this case with two related cases, Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama v. Governor of Alabama (IM-AL-0006) and Parsley v. Bentley (IM-AL-0007), for consideration of Motions for Preliminary Injunctions made by plaintiffs in each of the cases. A month later, however, the court dissolved the consolidation order and ordered all pleadings to be filed in the separate cases, as appropriate.
The court granted amicus curiae status to many organizations, including many South and Central American countries, the NAACP, several fair housing organizations, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and the National Lawyers Guild.
A day before the Preliminary Injunction hearing in August 2011, Alabama filed a Motion to Dismiss. After the hearing, on August 29, 2011, the court ordered enforcement of H.B. 56 temporarily enjoined. A month later the court issued a memorandum opinion granting a Preliminary Injunction for certain provisions of H.B. 56, but denying it for other provisions. Both plaintiffs and defendants then filed cross-appeals with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on March 1, 2012. Following the hearing, the court issued an order expanding the district court’s injunction pending complete resolution of the appeals. On November 20, 2012, the Court of Appeals (Judge Charles R. Wilson) held that most of the challenged provisions could not stand. United States v. Alabama, 691 F.3d 1269 (11th Cir. 2012). The court found that Section 28, which requires the immigration verification of newly enrolled students, violates the Equal Protection Clause. In addition, the court affirmed the district court’s decision that section 11(a), 13(a), 16, and 17 are likely preempted. The court reversed the district court’s holding as to section 10 and 27 and remanded for the entry of a preliminary injunction. The Supreme Court denied certiorari. Alabama v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 2022 (2013).
On remand, the parties reached agreement on a proposed final order to end the case. They filed this with the district court on October 29, 2013. If approved, the order will permanently enjoin defendants from implementing the majority of the challenged provisions. The state will not enforce provisions criminalize the solicitation of work by unauthorized or failing to register one’s immigration status. Plaintiffs will agree to dismiss their remaining claims without prejudice.
On the same day, the parties in the related case, Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama v. Governor of Alabama (IM-AL-0006), submitted a similar agreement and proposed order. There the parties also agreed to the permanent injunction of sections 10, 11(a), 13 and 27 as well as additional provisions 11(f) and (g). The settlement in this case would also enjoin enforcement of sections 16 and 17. In Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, the parties agreed to the permanent injunction of Section 28. The plaintiffs in this case have agreed to dismiss their claim against Section 28, assuming the court enters the permanent inunction against the provision sought in Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama v. Governor of Alabama (IM-AL-0006). In Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, the plaintiffs also agreed to dismiss the rest of their claims, but specified that a number of those agreements to dismiss (sections 12, 18, 19, and 20) depended upon the defendants' representation that they would interpret the provisions to be consistent with U.S. v. Arizona and "neither require nor authorize state or local law-enforcement officers to stop, detain, arrest, or prolong the detention of any person for the purpose of ascertaining that person’s immigration status or because of a belief that the person lacks lawful immigration status."Elizabeth Daligga - 06/19/2012
Jennifer Bronson - 11/02/2013