The Society for the
Study of Social Issues

Department of Justice Orders Injunction on Alabama Court Immigration Decision

Today, the Department of Justice ordered that an appeals court in Alabama put a hold on the decision of a federal judge made last week on the constitutionality of portions of the state's new anti-immigration law, HB 56.

The parts of the law upheld by Judge Sharon Blackburn on September 27 include those requiring that law enforcement officers determine the immigration status of individuals stopped or detained whom they reasonably suspect is in the country illegally, barring courts from enforcing a contract involving an unauthorized immigrant, and requiring that public schools determine the immigration status of enrolling students.

The DOJ’s emergency motion claims that HB 56 oversteps the bounds of a state’s prerogative in immigration affairs saying that “other states and their citizens are poorly served by the Alabama policy, which seeks to drive aliens from Alabama rather than achieve cooperation with the federal government to resolve a national problem in a manner consistent with the full range of national interests.”

Advocacy groups, public policy and civil rights organizations, and some church groups have voiced very serious opposition to the bill which is seen by many as the most extreme version of anti-immigrant state legislation to be proposed since Arizona’s controversial bill SB 1070.

Critics of the bill have raised a number of arguments. Among the most important have been that

  • it places too much responsibility on local law enforcement for policing immigrant
  • it could lead to erosion of community trust between immigrant communities, receiving communities, and law enforcement
  • it could lead to adverse effects on the economy
  • racial profiling will be carried out by the police, and
  • that the proposed use of the employment data technology system, e-verify, is too risky given that it hasn’t been fully tested

Many of the other questions that have been raised about the bill can be found in research and policy publication on the Immigration Policy Center website.

As a result of its motion, the DOJ has asked the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to halt approval of the bill while broader concerns about its constitutionality can be addressed.

Alex Ingrams
SPSSI Policy Coordinator

SPSSI Fact sheets relating to psychological research of immigration issues can be found at


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Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.
                                                                                                                    - Kurt Lewin