Alabama H.B. 56

AJC in the Courts:

AJC submits legal brief to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and argues that provisions of Alabama H.B. 56 are preempted under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the law should be overturned

A draconian Alabama statute, excluding “illegal aliens” from the most basic requirements of life, impermissibly intrudes on immigration powers the Constitution reserves for the federal government, the AJC told a federal appellate court this week in a brief submitted to the 11th Circuit Appellate Court on November 19, 2011. The brief was filed in the case of U.S. v. Alabama, a federal challenge to Alabama’s statute.

The brief argues that by imposing Alabama’s priorities on enforcement of immigration laws, the state impermissibly trespassed on the authority of the federal government. The discretion granted to the [federal government] to enforce immigration laws calls for the balancing of numerous, and often competing, interests. Immigration laws necessarily implicate national as well as foreign policy, in addition to humanitarian and economic concerns. Discretion is needed to allow the [federal government] to balance and prioritize these interests. … Most notably, the Federal government must ensure that states most affected by immigration do not create or attempt to enforce laws that harm foreign nationals and thus impact the United States’ foreign relations.

The brief noted that Alabama’s law “has already created actual foreign policy problems,” as exemplified by briefs filed by 16 nations objecting to the Alabama law, and threatens to create even more. Mexico as a result has refused to participate in various meetings and conferences with the U.S.

AJC's brief was prepared by the Washington office of the law firm Mayer Brown. To learn more about AJC’s legal actions, please contact Marc Stern at
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