State’s immigration bill has same provisions blocked in federal court

March 12, 2012

Legal Affairs, Politics

If enacted, Mississippi’s proposed anti-immigration law could encounter the same legal obstacles from federal judges who last week blocked two provisions of Alabama’s law.

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order temporarily halting a section that says courts can’t enforce contracts involving illegal immigrants and another that makes it a felony for an illegal immigrant to do business with the state.

The judges said the 11th Circuit would not issue a ruling on either the Alabama or Georgia law until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the Arizona immigration law case, which is to be argued April 25.

Lawyers in the Alabama case had asked the court to stop the two sections and others, at least temporarily, contending that they were harming people in the state.

“We are very pleased that the 11th Circuit understood the harms these provisions were causing in Alabama, and saw fit to enjoin them,” the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Sam Brooke, who argued before the panel last week, said in an Associated Press report.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said he is “hopeful that the Supreme Court’s coming decision in the Arizona case will make clear that our law is constitutional.”

In addition to questioning the legality of Alabama’s prohibition on undocumented immigrants doing business with the state, the judges wondered whether Alabama was engaging in scare tactics by requiring schools to report students or parents they think are in the country illegally.

The business prohibition led Judge Beverly Martin to say Alabama’s law seems to prohibit the ability of immigrants to find a place to live or obtain basic services such as public utilities.

Mississippi’s legislation, HB488, has both provisions. In fact, the legislation closely follows the measure enacted by Alabama last year. One difference is Mississippi’s residency document exemption for international business executives authorized to conduct business in the state.

Immigration checkpoints in Alabama in recent months snagged top executives of Mercedes Benz and Hyundai for not having residency papers. The German and Korean automakers have manufacturing plants in Alabama.

Alabama’s lawmakers have been candid in stating the purpose of the state’s far-reaching law: convincing undocumented immigrants they must leave the state.

Alabama Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, who co-sponsored the bill, told the Huntsville Times the goal was to attack every aspect of an illegal alien’s life and get them to “self deport.”

An appeal relating to a Mississippi immigration law would be heard by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

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