The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on October 15th, as expected, denied the State of Alabama’s request for a rehearing in the lawsuit challenging the state’s immigration law. The U.S. Department of Justice and the group of 36 Plaintiffs who sued Alabama over the law had elected not to ask for a rehearing. Apparently they were satisfied with the results. Alabama had asked the Court for a rehearing to take up the parts of the law that a three-judge panel from the Court blocked in its August decision. This denial dealt only with the lawsuit filed by the Justice Department. While the other case wasn’t a part of this ruling, I will be shocked if a different result occurs in that case.
Alabama wanted the Appeals Court to lift its injunction on the state’s efforts to collect immigration data on new public school students. The state also wanted the Court to allow it to bar contracts with illegal immigrants and permission to enforce a provision that criminalizes harboring and transporting illegal immigrants.
As we have previously written, the 11th Circuit upheld parts of Alabama’s law that directs police officers to perform immigration status checks during arrests and traffic stops. Alabama was also allowed to enforce a provision that bars an illegal immigrant from getting a driver’s license and business and professional licenses. State officials have said the law is necessary to stem the tide of illegal immigration, but the U.S. Supreme Court declared much of Arizona’s similar law unconstitutional, finding that it conflicted with the federal government’s authority on immigration policy and enforcement. The Supreme Court did not block Arizona’s section of the law allowing law enforcement to engage in immigration status checks, and the 11th Circuit followed suit in the Alabama case.
The 11th Circuit, by refusing the state’s request for a rehearing, puts Alabama officials in a real tough spot. The issues before the 11th Circuit arise out of the two lawsuits filed by the Justice Department and the group of Plaintiffs led by the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama. The Plaintiffs had asked the 11th Circuit to block Alabama’s law from being enforced while the two lawsuits are ongoing and the Appeals Court shot that request down. Now the officials who are driving the immigration train will have to decide whether to continue spending money the state doesn’t have or to concede defeat. The better course of action would be to quit playing political games over the immigration issue and get on with the important issues facing the state.
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