Group asks federal judge to block Ala. immigration law

A coalition of Alabama civil rights groups is asking a federal judge to block a tough new state law cracking down on illegal immigration from taking effect September 1st.

The motion was filed Thursday in federal court in Huntsville by the same groups that have already filed a suit challenging the law. Opponents and supporters say the law is the toughest of its kind in the nation.

The latest motion calls the law blatantly unconstitutional and asks U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn to stop it before it harms Alabama residents.

"This law is not only anti-immigrant, it is anti-American," said Olivia Turner, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama. "It will criminalize Alabamians for everyday interactions with people who are here without documents, such as driving someone to the grocery store or to church, and law enforcement officers will be required to violate the constitutional rights of citizens and non-citizens alike."

Supports of the law say it was carefully crafted and will survive court battles, but that a fight in the courts over the law was fully expected.

"Make no mistake, this lawsuit will not undo Alabama's immigration law," said Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn), the current Speaker of the House. "If the court finds problems with parts of the law, tweaks can be made. But Alabama is not going to be a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants. Alabama will have a strict immigration law and we will enforce it."

The law allows police to detain people they suspect of being illegal immigrants after a traffic stop, requires schools to report the immigration status of students and makes it illegal to knowingly transport or give shelter to an illegal immigrant.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. WSFA 12 News contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved.)