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By Cecillia Wang, Director, ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project

A federal appeals court issued an order Thursday blocking two draconian provisions of Alabama's immigration law, H.B. 56. The order brings immediate relief to the countless Alabamians who have suffered under these provisions, which were intended "to attack every aspect" of their lives and to expel them from the state.

The court's order first restored the right of Alabamians to enter into contracts without fear. Section 27 of H.B. 56 would effectively void any contract where one party knows or has reason to know that another party to the contract is an undocumented immigrant. Under this measure, such contracts would be unenforceable in Alabama state courts.

The Alabama law takes aim at immigrants but affects all Alabamians by destabilizing contract law, a basic building block of our civil liberties as Americans. Even U.S citizens, as well as immigrants with and without lawful status, would be viewed with suspicion and denied the right to rent a home, or to lease a car or buy a new dining table on an installment plan. If you speak English with an accent, or you somehow seem "foreign" to a landlord or a salesman, Alabama's law would make it impossible for you to do your everyday business and to keep a roof over your family's head. Section 27 would turn neighbor against neighbor, forcing Alabamians to view each other with suspicion based on stereotypes.

The Court also blocked Section 30 of H.B. 56, which makes it a felony for an undocumented immigrant to enter into "any transaction" with the state government. We've already seen the human rights crisis caused by this law. Families who tried to pay for life necessities like water and electricity were turned away by state-run utilities. Alabamians were forced to show proof of their citizenship or immigration status when paying their property taxes. And so entire neighborhoods emptied overnight as families abandoned their homes and fled with only the belongings they could carry with them. This measure worked just as the state legislature intended – it literally made it impossible for people to live in Alabama.

The federal court ruling does not only restore the civil rights of Alabamians. It also puts things back into a constitutional order. As Americans, we have the right to disagree with one another in good faith about immigration policy. But one thing is for sure, as yesterday court order demonstrates: State laws that authorize discrimination and systematic violations of the U.S. Constitution cannot stand.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Outstanding! Now lets get it struck down (8+ / 0-)

    Republicans take care of big money, for big money takes care of them ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 09:55:57 AM PST

  •  Wooooo! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ExStr8, Railfan, MKSinSA, ParkRanger

    Great news! Thank you!

  •  Strong work, ACLU (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gustynpip, Railfan, MKSinSA, sfbob, jedennis, Kinak

    Thank you for guarding our freedoms!

    Stonewall was a RIOT!

    by ExStr8 on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 10:08:00 AM PST

  •  Laws regulating immigration, (0+ / 0-)

    whether on the state or national level, are an effort to regulate the behavior of individuals who aren't even within the jurisdiction of the state or nation.  In other words, legislators are passing laws that affect people who aren't even here yet.  That's not consistent with the Constitution.

    Secondly, in denying an entry permit to people who aren't rich enough to visit on vacation, our agents of government are not providing equal treatment.  The exclusion of people who aren't rich is comparable to denying the ability to register marriages to people who are of the same gender, an irrelevant criterion.

    Also, in requiring aliens to apply for an get permits to work, when resident persons (citizens or not) have no obligation to seek or get a permit to work, our agents of government are failing to provide equal treatment. This problem might be corrected by requiring every person seeking to be employed to get a work permit.  Regardless of whether or not Americans would put up with that, permitting lawful employment would be without justification.  Permits can be required to be applied for and issued for inherently good behavior, if there's a potential for the behavior becoming harmful (a licensed driver of a motor vehicle driving drunk) or if it is in the public interest to be informed of certain activities (people taking responsibility for each other and off-spring).  The public purpose served by preventing some people from performing labor for which others are willing to pay is impossible to define.  That some unknown third party might be somehow deprived really doesn't wash.  The public purpose has to be based on fact.

    If immigrants are being paid less than a livable wage, don't penalize the immigrants.  Address the employers, people engaged in commerce and trying to gain an unfair advantage over their compatriots by ripping new arrivals off.  If such behavior in fact generates an unjustified profit, tax it so the money can be returned to the general fund and sustain the people that were displaced.

    It is not possible to correct a problem by manipulating the victims. Exploitation cannot be halted by removing the exploited.  Rape cannot be prevented by locking all the virgins away.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 10:40:31 AM PST

  •  two down .... more to go! ........nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  Isn`t this (0+ / 0-)

    George Wallace country? Yeah you know, stupid is stupid does??

    Old men tell same old stories

    by Ole Texan on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 11:30:56 AM PST

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