Immigration Attorneys Who Are Distinguished

Appeals Court Blocks Portions of Controversial Alabama Immigration Law

October 20, 2011

A federal court of appeals blocked some parts of Alabama’s controversial new immigration law last week, but much of the law remains in effect. While this law only applies in the state of Alabama, it has influenced lawmakers and immigration reformers all over the country. Alabama’s law pits the federal government, which has authority over immigration matters under the U.S. Constitution, against a state government seeking its own reform. The outcome of this dispute, and the enactment and enforcement of the Alabama law, will have nationwide impact on immigration matters.

Mexico FlagThe law affects many aspects of government operations, including law enforcement, education, and the civil court system. It also saddles Alabama law enforcement with a duty to check people’s immigration statuses, and at times to determine whether a person is present in the United States legally. As any immigration attorney knows, this is a difficult determination to make, and law enforcement without specialized training in immigration laws may not be in the best position to do so. The Obama administration took Alabama to court to challenge its legal ability to legislate immigration matters, arguing that the Constitution grants that power exclusively to the federal government. A ruling from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta last week gave partial victories to each side of the dispute.

The court’s ruling blocks some of the law’s more controversial provisions, but leaves many more in place. The court will review the constitutional questions presented in the case and make a more thorough ruling later. The court blocked the section requiring state officials to check the immigration status of public school students. It also blocked a provision creating a misdemeanor offense for immigrants who willfully fail “to complete or carry an alien registration card,” something critics described as allowing law enforcement to demand papers from people they suspect of being undocumented, with few guidelines on how to make that determination.

Provisions of the law remaining in force include one that requires law enforcement, during lawful stops or arrests, to try to determine a person’s immigration status if they suspect the person is undocumented. Another provision still in force bars state courts from enforcing contracts that involve undocumented immigrants, and another makes it a felony for undocumented immigrants to enter into “business transactions” in the state. This last provision may make it illegal for someone to apply for a driver’s license or even to hook up utility services.

Alabama’s law follows another controversial immigration law passed in Arizona last year. Legislators in many states, including both Ohio and Michigan, have expressed interest in modeling legislation on both Arizona and Alabama’s statutes. Michigan legislators introduced a similar bill earlier this year. The Alabama law, as well as the Arizona law that preceded it, has the potential to create problems for lawful immigrants and visa holders who do not keep their documentation handy, or for employers who may have to account for employees’ immigration status. While some of the more problematic sections may not make it through the current litigation, the law may end up impacting immigration issues around the country.

Ohio immigration visa lawyer Gus Shihab helps people seeking to visit or immigrate to the United States in understanding the often complex processes involved. For a free and confidential consultation, contact him through his website or at 877-479-4USA (4872).

Web Resources

Full text of Alabama’s HB 56 (PDF)

More Blog Posts

Immigration Outlook for 2011: Congressional Overhaul Versus Strict Enforcement, Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, February 20, 2011
New ‘U.S. Citizenship Welcome Packet’ Contains Useful Information for New Citizens, Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, December 23, 2010
The Most Appalling and Unconstitutional Aspects of Arizona’s SB1070 Blocked by Federal Court, Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, July 31, 2010

Client Reviews
I had a really hard case then after dealing with many attorneys I decided to work with Mr Shihab and his office and that was the best decision I took, how professional they are, how good and fast they are I was treated from day 1 like a family member not just a client Ramez
Atty. Shihab helped me navigate several issues that I had never faced before... he made it easy and supported me immediately if I had any questions, and his suggestions were top-notch. Avvo user
If you want to hire the best Immigration Attorney, hire Attorney Shihab. He will go above and beyond anyone's expectations, and stays on top of your case. He keeps you informed and up to date on deadlines, interviews and what to expect. Keith
Atty Shihab's record really speaks for itself, but more importantly, each client is treated with the upmost respect and dignity. He and his entire staff makes you feel as if you are the only client in their office. Rhonda
Mr. Shihab was recommended to me when the attorney my sister and I used failed to process our papers on time. From the beginning, I have consistently experienced exemplary service and very thorough knowledge of his profession. Amruta