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Southern Poverty Law Center’s Statement On 11th Circuit Ruling

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Press release issued by Southern Poverty Law Center:

ATLANTA – A federal appeals court today blocked key provisions of Alabama and Georgia’s anti-immigrant laws. Significantly, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit found that section 28 of Alabama’s law which requires the immigration verification of newly enrolled K – 12 students, violates the Equal Protection Clause and could interfere with children’s constitutional right to education. The court also blocked the registration and contracts provisions found in Alabama’s law, HB 56. In Georgia, the court determined that a section criminalizing transporting or harboring of immigrants was not permissible.

In both Georgia and Alabama, the court issued a narrow ruling allowing the “show me your papers” provisions of HB 56 and HB 87 to remain in or go into effect, but leaving open the possibility of future challenges on civil rights or due process grounds.

“We are pleased that this ruling has sent a strong message to Alabama and other states that they cannot enact hate-filled laws to try to drive an entire class of people from their borders,” said Mary Bauer, legal director for the SPLC.  “We are thrilled that students returning to schools this week will return to safer and more welcoming environments.  We will continue to challenge the provisions left in place because, as we have already seen in Alabama, these laws cannot be enforced without racial profiling.”

“Today’s decisions should send a strong message that state attempts to criminalize immigrants and their loved ones will not be tolerated,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “Alabamian children can now start the new school year without fear that their citizenship will be questioned, and Georgians can continue to give neighbors and friends a ride without first asking for their “papers.” Although we are disappointed that the racial profiling provisions of Alabama and Georgia’s law have not been blocked, we will continue to fight them both within and outside the courtroom.”

Omar Jadwat, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said: “The court today rejected many parts of Alabama and Georgia’s anti-immigrant laws, including attempts to criminalize everyday interactions with undocumented immigrants and Alabama’s callous attempt to deprive some children of their constitutional right to education. The court explicitly left the door open to further challenges against the “show me your papers” provision, which we will continue to fight in order to protect people’s constitutional rights.”

The coalition includes the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center, the ACLU of Georgia, MALDEF, the ACLU of Alabama, the Asian Law Caucus, and the Asian American Justice Center.