Federal Judge With Ties to Bush Fails to Strike Down Alabama’s Immigration Law

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by Glynn Wilson

A federal judge with close ties to former president George W. Bush failed Wednesday to strike down Alabama’s strict new immigration law, even though the Obama Justice Department argued that it violated the Constitution and usurped the federal government’s authority to set immigration policy.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn, who dated Bush in 1972 when he was in Montgomery avoiding service in Vietnam, was appointed to the court in 1991 by then-President George H.W. Bush. In Wednesday’s ruling, she upheld some provisions of the law, while withholding a final ruling on others, including the one concerning church objections to feeding and transporting those in the country without a green card.

The ruling appears to be politically crafted to give the churches what they want, big business what they want, and to grant police unlimited power to target and even profile Latin Americans. The unions are also screwed by this ruling, since they wanted the provision to hold companies accountable, and trial lawyers will not be able to sue companies for hiring illegal immigrants.


According to Politico and other news organizations, Blackburn issued a 115-page opinion, in which she indicated the Obama Justice Department, which sued to stop the law from going into effect, “has not met the requirements for a preliminary injunction” for several of the measures the Justice Department had argued violated the Constitution and usurped the federal government’s authority to set immigration policy.

She granted the Obama administration’s request to block certain portions of the law until she makes a final ruling, including provisions making it a crime to transport or harbor illegal immigrants, or for an illegal immigrant to look for or perform work. Blackburn also blocked parts of the law that would allow discrimination lawsuits against companies that hire illegal immigrants when they discharge or fail to hire a U.S. citizen, and forbid employers from claiming as business tax deductions wages paid to illegal immigrants.

On those sections, she wrote, “there is a substantial likelihood that the United States will succeed on the merits of its claims” that the measures are preempted by federal law.

According to the AP, she said federal law doesn’t prohibit checking students or suspects pulled over by police, and Blackburn refused to stop provisions that allow police to hold suspected illegal immigrants without bond; bar state courts from enforcing contracts involving illegal immigrants; make it a felony for an illegal immigrant to do business with the state; and make it a misdemeanor for an illegal resident not to have immigration papers.

Blackburn’s order temporarily blocked four parts of the law until she can issue a final ruling. Those measures would:

– Make it a crime for an illegal immigrant to solicit work.
– Make it a crime to transport or harbor an illegal immigrant.
– Allow discrimination lawsuits against companies that dismiss legal workers while hiring illegal immigrants.
– Forbid businesses from taking tax deductions for wages paid to workers who are in the country illegally.

In reacting to the decision, former judge Mark Kennedy, Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, said of the ruling on the so-called “Beason-Hammon immigration bill:”

“Though we appreciate the serious and thoughtful deliberation with which Judge Blackburn made her decision today, we are disappointed that the Alabama legislature would see fit to pass a bill that could lead to racial profiling and injustice,” Kennedy said. “The legal battle has just begun and we are hopeful that if the ruling is appealed, the appellate courts will take a different path.

“This legislation will put an even greater strain on our already cash-strapped county offices and law enforcement agencies,” Kennedy said. “Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale has raised concerns about the unreasonable burden this bill places on overcrowded jails, and Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan has warned of the devastating impact this bill could have on our agriculture industry. It is unfortunate that the Republicans believe the best way to handle this issue is to pass one of the largest unfunded government mandates in Alabama history.”

© 2011, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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