ATLANTA – A federal appeals court Thursday temporarily blocked Alabama from enforcing two more parts of its tough new immigration law.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order temporarily halting a section that says courts can't enforce contracts involving illegal immigrants and another that makes it a felony for an illegal immigrant to do business with the state.
The order, expanding on an October prohibition blocking a requirement that schools check students’ immigration status, is in effect pending the outcome of lawsuits that seek to overturn entirely the law that went into effect last September.
Lawyers in the Alabama case had asked the court to at least temporarily stop the two sections and others, claiming they were causing harm to people in the state.
The law adopted last year was challenged by both the federal government and a coalition of activist groups. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit heard arguments last week but said it won't rule on the overall case until the U.S. Supreme Court decides a federal challenge to a similar law in Arizona. The appeals court is also weighing Georgia's law.
"We are very pleased that the Eleventh Circuit understood the harms these provisions were causing in Alabama, and saw fit to enjoin them," said the Southern Poverty Law Center's Sam Brooke, who argued before the panel last week.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said he strongly disagrees with the court's decision.
"I will continue to vigorously defend Alabama's immigration law in the courts," he said. "I am hopeful that the Supreme Court's coming decision in the Arizona case will make clear that our law is constitutional."
Republican state Sen. Scott Beason, a co-sponsor of last year’s law, said the Alabama law would survive, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.
“The Arizona law will be successful, the Alabama law will come after that and be successful, and it will give a road map to other states in the nation to see what they can do.”
Sections still in effect include one that requires a law enforcement officer to determine the citizenship and legal status of a person stopped or arrested if the officer has a "reasonable suspicion" that he person is in the country illegally.
After Arizona adopted its tough law in 2010, five other states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah — adopted variations on it last year, with Alabama's widely considered the toughest in the nation.
This article includes reporting by Reuters and The Associated Press.
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