Blogs on Immigration Law and Policy

by Greg Siskind

Supreme Court Strikes Another Nail in the Coffin of Alabama Immigration Law

From the National Immigration Law Center:

Supreme Court Rejects Alabama’s Request to Review the State’s Anti-immigrant Law

Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court Ruling Blocking Law’s Criminalizing Acts of Kindness Remains in Place

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected the state of Alabama’s request to review a provision of the state’s anti-immigrant law that was blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit last year.

In February, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange petitioned the Supreme Court to consider the provision of the law that criminalizes neighborly acts of kindness, or Section 13, the “harboring and transporting” provision. This provision criminalized individuals who engaged in routine daily activities with undocumented immigrants.

The circuit court has blocked most of Alabama’s anti-immigrant law as unconstitutional, including provisions that would have chilled Latino student access to Alabama elementary schools.

Last summer, the Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona’s SB 1070, which served as a model for the Alabama law. The Court ruled that much of the Arizona law was unconstitutional because it interfered with federal authority over immigration.

“The Supreme Court has rightly struck another nail in the coffin of laws that attempt to sanction racial profiling,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for the National Immigration Law Center. “Alabama’s legislators, both at the state and at the federal levels should take note: they, like the rest of the country, should move forward, not backward, to bring our immigration laws in line with our societal and economic needs.”

*“The Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the case was expected,” said Sam Brooke, staff attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The high court invalidated most of Arizona’s immigration law last year, stating unequivocally that immigration is a federal issue and states may not create their own enforcement schemes. That is why the lower courts already blocked Alabama’s law.” Mr. Brooke further noted, “We need meaningful and comprehensive immigration reform from Washington, D.C. Hopefully the lessons learned from H.B. 56 will motivate Congress to act quickly to address this pressing issue.”

“The Supreme Court made the right decision not to hear this case,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “All the lower federal courts – and the court of public opinion – have said no to divisive state laws like this one, and Americans have moved on* to support immigration reform that creates a new common sense immigration system.”

The Eleventh Circuit has also blocked the following provisions of the law:

  • Section 10, which criminalized failing to register one’s immigration status (blocked by the Eleventh Circuit);
  • Section 11(a), which criminalized the solicitation of work (blocked by the Eleventh Circuit);
  • Sections 11(f) and (g), which criminalized day laborers’ first amendment right to solicit work (blocked by the District Court in Birmingham and not appealed); and
  • Section 27, which infringed on the ability of individuals to contract with someone who was undocumented (blocked by the Eleventh Circuit);
  • Section 28, which requires the immigration verification of newly enrolled K-12 students (blocked by the Eleventh Circuit).
Today’s order from the Supreme Court came in the parallel case of United States v. Alabama, but the provisions were also challenged by private plaintiffs in HICA v. Bentley.* The civil rights organizations involved in HICA v. Bentley, the class-action challenge to Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, include the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian Law Caucus, the Asian American Justice Center, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Day Laborers’ Organizing Network, and LatinoJustice-PRLDEF.

About The Author Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at

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