Sheriffs' Association, Dept. of Justice to meet concerning immigration law

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Sheriffs' Association says it's meeting next week with officials from the Department of Justice over the new law.   The association said the U.S. Attorney's office in Birmingham requested the meeting to discuss potential issues.

The new immigration law requires law enforcement agencies to detain anyone who cannot prove they are in the country legally during a lawful stop, detention or arrest.  They're also required to the legal status of those arrested for crimes requiring bail.   The Alabama Sheriffs' Association wants clarification about how long those suspected of being in the country illegally should be held.

"If they don't come and get him, how long do we hold him or what," said Robert Timmons, executive director of the Alabama Sheriffs' Association.  "Those are questions we need to know and we need to find out about it."

The Department of Justice confirmed next week's meeting in Birmingham, but would not comment further about the specifics.

"To the extent we find state laws that interfere with the federal government's enforcement of immigration law, we are prepared to bring suit," said Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokesperson for U.S. Department of Justice. "The Department is currently reviewing immigration-related laws that were passed in Utah, Indiana, Georgia and Alabama."

Groups like the ACLU have already filed challenges to laws in other states.  Late Friday, a Judge blocked certain parts of Indiana's new immigration law from taking effect on July 1st.

During an exclusive appearance on WSFA 12 News' Alabama Live on Friday, Governor Robert Bentley said he's open to changes in the bill.

"You have to look at legislation that comes through," Gov. Bentley said.  "We will certainly look at that and see if there's any changes we need to make to it.  But I think it's a very strong bill, that's what I asked for.  It is the strongest immigration bill in the country, but we asked for that."

Timmons said if the law is found to be valid, his members will enforce it.  But he is concerned about the potential added cost of housing illegal immigrants during tough budget times.  Alabama's law is scheduled to take effect in September.

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