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Appeals Court Issues Partial Injunction Against Alabama Immigration Law

CNN reports that an appeals court has delivered a partial injunction against Alabama’s immigration law, which the Obama Justice Department does not like at all:

The injunction issued Friday from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta came after the U.S. Justice Department — supported by a coalition of immigrant rights groups — requested the legislation, known as HB 56, be put on hold until the larger constitutional questions can be addressed, a process that could take some months at least.

The 16-page order gives both sides partial victories, allowing some parts of the law to go into effect while others are temporarily blocked.

CNN tallies up the wins and losses for Alabama in this mixed ruling.  Provisions blocked by the 11th Circuit Court include:

— One requiring state officials to check the immigration status of students in public schools

— One making “willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration card” a misdemeanor for immigrants

While the court said it was OK for Alabama to proceed with enforcing these provisions:

— One requiring that police during “lawful” stops or arrests “attempt to determine the immigration status of a person who they suspect is an unauthorized alien of this country.” That provision is similar to other laws aiming to crack down on illegal immigration passed by other state legislatures over the past year.

— One barring state courts from enforcing contracts involving undocumented immigrants, if the hiring party had a “direct or constructive” knowledge that the person was in the country unlawfully.

— One making it a felony for illegal immigrants to enter into a “business transaction” in Alabama, including applying for a driver’s license or a business license.

The Obama Administration is forging ahead with a challenge to the constitutionality of the entire law, on the grounds that state immigration laws interfere with the “exclusive mandate of the federal government” to conduct foreign policy.  So, to sum up the Obama position, it’s constitutional for the federal government to force its citizens to purchase health care, and access whatever personal information it needs to ensure this commandment is obeyed, but checking the immigration status of people who access the public school system is completely unacceptable.

Also unusual is the 11th Circuit’s denial of the Alabama attempt to prosecute the failure to carry an “alien registration card.”  What the heck is that?  Well, according to U.S. Immigration Support, it’s another name for an immigrant visa:

United States permanent residents have an identification card known as the “Alien Registration Card”. Other names for the Alien Registration Card include the immigrant visa, permanent visa, permanent resident card, permanent resident visa, form I-551 or form I-551. While permanent residents are not United States citizens, they are granted permission to reside and work in the United States on a permanent basis. Permanent residents in the United States are legally in the country, but they are still considered aliens.

Unlike United States citizens who are not required to carry an identification to prove their citizenship, permanent residents must carry their Alien Registration Card with them at all times. The government agency responsible for issuing Alien Registration Cards is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which was formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

The Alabama law specifically states that only illegal aliens would be hit with misdemeanor charges if they’re caught without an alien registration card.  A legal alien resident who forgot to bring his card with him, and gets arrested for some reason without it, is not in trouble.

So, today’s court ruling is part of an ongoing effort to keep immigration law in a permanent “kinda-sorta” status.  Illegal entry into the United States is kinda-sorta a crime, which the federal government will sporadically punish when it feels like it.  Attempting to efficient detect violators of this crime is unseemly and unacceptable, since it will highlight the elites’ general disdain for the concept of a “border.” 

Besides the desire of various factions within the elite to import cheap labor and/or voters, and a visceral distaste for anything that smacks of “nationalism,” the reason laws like Alabama’s cause such conniption fits is that they highlight the breathtaking scope of Washington’s failure to take the concept of “citizenship” seriously.  A great deal of our illegal immigration mess is a result of laziness.  Reasonably energetic efforts to enforce the most basic and logical provisions of immigration law are invariably accompanied by a steep decline in the illegal alien population. 

Washington hates it when the exasperated residents of a state make this point, because it would force them to begin diverting serious resources to fulfilling a duty they find politically unrewarding and distracting.  In the modern information age, constructing an efficient computerized system for monitoring immigration status would not be difficult… but there are a lot of places politicians would much rather spend your money.

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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