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Alabama enforces toughest immigration law in US

Published time: September 29, 2011 18:46
Edited time: September 29, 2011 23:48
Folders for illegal immigrants flown back to Guatemala on a repatriation flight await to be filed at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility for illegal immigrants in Florence, Arizona. (John Moore/Getty Images/AFP )

Folders for illegal immigrants flown back to Guatemala on a repatriation flight await to be filed at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility for illegal immigrants in Florence, Arizona. (John Moore/Getty Images/AFP )

Starting today, be prepared to be stopped on the streets of Alabama. Law enforcement officials within the state have the power to question suspected immigrants without provocation and the governor says they’re going to do just that.

Anti-immigration law activists say the new laws in the state of Alabama are perhaps the strictest in the country. US District Judge Sharon Blackburn, a Republican appointee, ruled on Wednesday that while some segments of the controversial law which has raised concern from advocates for months now will not go through, several questionable practices will be permitted starting today, including the ability for Alabama cops to stop and question people that they suspect to be illegal immigrants. Authorities also have the power to hold them without bond.

Elsewhere in the legislation, cops have the capability of investigating the status of children attending state public school to verify their citizenship. Both that provision and the one permitting police to ask for immigration papers were proposed in other states with similar laws but were shut down. In Alabama, however, they now have the go-ahead to follow through.

Alabama officials say that this isn’t just an empty threat, either. "We intend to enforce it," says Governor Robert Bentley.

There is a chance, however, that the laws won’t stay on the books long. Three separate lawsuits have been brought against the state, and while Blackburn’s ruling is expected to be appealed, President Barack Obama has also issued a challenge against the legislation.

Judge Blackburn did rule that some parts of the legislation need to be blocked while she ponders a final ruling. A handful of matter pertaining to immigrants, including possibly barring illegal residents from attending public colleges and making it a crime for an alien to solicit work, still await approval from the judge.

"There are still legal questions and there's still work to be done," remarks Republican Senator Scott Beason to The Associated Press. Beason was one of the sponsors of the bill and hopes that the other provisions making up the framework of the legislation will get the go-ahead.

In a statement released this week, Tea Party activist Zan Green from the Birminghan, Alabama area saluted the ruling and said that illegal immigrants have long been receiving entitlements that deserve to only go to actual Americans.

"Judge Blackburn's ruling is the beginning of removing the enormous financial burden of illegal immigration from the backs of Alabama citizens," said Green.

Others, however, say that the law could cause economic hardships among agriculturists in Alabama. Some farmers feel that legislation will keep immigrants from taking on farm jobs, greatly diminishing their workforce and ability to churn out fruits and vegetables.

Earlier this year, hackers with the group LulzSec released personal data pertaining to members of Arizona law enforcement that had been marked “not for public distribution.” Theyexplicitly said that the leak was in retaliation for their proposed legislation and “the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona.”