11th Circuit Says Alabama Can’t Check Student Immigration Status

A while back we posted on Alabama’s immigration bill which would allow schools to check the immigration status of new students in its public schools. Part of Alabama’s immigration law that ordered public schools to check the citizenship of new students was ruled unconstitutional Monday by the federal appeals court that also said police in that state and Georgia could demand papers from criminal suspects they had detained.

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Alabama schools provision wrongly singled out children who were in the country illegally. Alabama was the only state that passed such a requirement; the 11th Circuit previously had blocked that part of the law from being enforced.

Judges said fear of the law “significantly deters undocumented children from enrolling in and attending school.”
Both private groups and the Obama administration sued to block the law, considered the toughest in the country.

The court upheld parts of immigration laws in Alabama and Georgia allowing law enforcement to check documents for people they stop.

And the panel left in place an injunction blocking a section of the Georgia law that allows for the prosecution of people who knowingly harbor or transport an illegal immigrant during the commission of a crime.

In Alabama, the judges sided with opponents of the law on other key points, including challenges to sections making it illegal to harbor illegal immigrants; making it a crime for illegal immigrants to seek work; and making it a state crime for people in the country illegally not to have registration documents.

The decisions follow a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding parts of a similar law in Arizona. It will be interesting to see how these provisions are carried unless they are appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to make the final decision on the matter.