The state of Alabama settled a handful of remaining lawsuits challenging its strict immigration laws on Tuesday, rendering a series of temporary enforcement blocks on aspects of the law permanent. Those provisions include a requirement to check the immigration status of public school students in the state.
HB56, passed in 2011, was seen as something of a canary for other states looking to pass restrictive anti-immigration measures. Tuesday's settlement, then, implies some basic boundaries for other states considering similar plans. The law's goal, in part, was to encourage undocumented immigrants to "self-deport," at least from Alabama, by making undocumented life more difficult. According to WSFA, the following provisions in the immigration law will now be permanently blocked:
- A provision requiring officials to check the immigration status of all children enrolling on public schools
- The criminalization of the act of giving a ride or renting to someone who is undocumented.
- A provision criminalizing a failure to register immigration status.
- A provision criminalizing contracts between Alabamians and undocumented immigrants
- Two provisions criminalizing the solicitation of work by undocumented immigrants, and an undocumented immigrant's First Amendment right to solicit work.
The settlement also includes an agreement from the state clarifying that police officers can't initiate traffic stops just to conduct immigration checks. That pertains to a provision nicknamed the "papers, please” measure, which granted law enforcement officials broad authority to demand proof of immigration status from individuals. The state will also pay $350,000 in legal fees. State attorney general Luther Strange provided the following statement to local news outlets on the settlement:
"The Attorney General's Office has vigorously defended our state's immigration law in both the federal trial and appellate courts. The courts have upheld most of the Act but have also made clear that some provisions are invalid. We have a duty to follow the law as set forth by the courts. The filings made today inform the trial court of which claims must be dismissed and which provisions our of law cannot be enforced because of the Supreme Court's and Eleventh Circuit's rulings. It is up to Washington to fulfill its responsibility to enforce the country's immigration laws."
Some of the civil rights groups behind the lawsuits challenging the law praised the settlement, while vowing to work on repealing the remaining provisions of HB56.
"This American Life" fans might know something about Alabama's immigration law. In a segment on the measures aired in 2012, the show explained that the law had a plethora of unintended consequences in the state before courts began temporarily blocking some of its more controversial provisions. In addition to discouraging businesses from setting up shop in the state, the law also effectively placed the entire Latino community there under suspicion during even routine, daily tasks like grocery shopping or going to school.