(MONTGOMERY) - Today in Atlanta, lawyers from the Alabama Attorney General's Office argued to judges on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that the state's immigration law is constitutional.
Both the United States Department of Justice and private plaintiffs sued to enjoin Alabama's immigration statute. Although federal courts preliminarily enjoined some of the law's provisions, Alabama has successfully defeated attempts to enjoin critical components of the law, including provisions that permit law enforcement officers to verify immigration status during lawful stops. The constitutionality of those provisions and other important aspects of the law are on appeal before the 11th Circuit. Attorneys from Alabama told a panel of three judges today that Congress and the Supreme Court have made clear that States have the power to enact laws addressing the problems created by illegal immigration.
The Court announced that it would not issue an opinion until after the U.S. Supreme Court renders its decision in a pending Arizona case.
Attorney General Luther Strange said afterwards that he hopes that today's hearing will clear up misconceptions about the immigration law. He emphasized that Alabama's law does not conflict with, but parallels and builds upon federal laws enacted by Congress, and is designed to work in cooperation with the federal government. "Congress has a policy against illegal immigration," Attorney General Strange said. "Alabama's law is consistent with what Congress wanted. It is ironic that in this case, the Obama Administration is hoping to stop the operation of Alabama's law and to undermine the purposes of Congress."
Attorney General Strange further noted, "I am proud of Alabama's strong tradition of welcoming legal immigrants, which has its foundation in our State Constitution's express encouragement of lawful immigration. This has been demonstrated throughout the years by international companies that choose to locate and bring their people here. From Mercedes and Hyundai to NASA to Thyssen-Krupp, and countless other examples, our State has continually sought to encourage people from around the world to come work and live in Alabama."
The Court also heard arguments today regarding Georgia's immigration law, which also is under challenge. The federal court has upheld the vast majority of Georgia's law, but enjoined two sections of the law on grounds similar to those at issue in Alabama's case. Georgia appealed the court's injunction to the 11th Circuit and also argued today that its law is constitutional.