MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The federal government is filing suit to block Alabama's controversial immigration reform law.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court by the U.S. Department of Justice, names the State of Alabama and Governor Robert Bentley as defendants. The DOJ accuses the defendants of violating the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution which gives the federal government authority to create and enforce immigration-related laws.
The Dept. of Justice said in its filings, "A state cannot set its own immigration policy, much less pass laws that conflict with federal enforcement of the immigration laws."
Alabama's immigration law, officially known as House Bill 56, oversteps those bounds, according to the suit, adding that Alabama's law, "will conflict with and undermine the federal government's careful balance of immigration enforcement priorities and objectives."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the suit," makes clear that setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility that cannot be addressed through a patchwork of state immigration laws."
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh's office balked at the lawsuit. Marsh's communications director, Derek Troter: "The 400 percent increase in Alabama's illegal imigrant population over the past decade proves that the federal government is looking the other way on this issue."
Governor Bentley released this statement after learning of the lawsuit:
"Lawsuits have been filed in every state that has passed a strong immigration law. The Federal government did not do what it was supposed to do to enforce laws against illegal immigration. That is why I campaigned on the need for a strong immigration law in Alabama. The legislature passed that law and I signed it. I will continue fight at every turn to make sure we have a strong immigration law in Alabama."
Once again, the bill's primary sponsor, Micky Hammon (R-Decatur) stood up to defend his bill.
"The Obama administration and the federal bureaucrats have turned a blind eye toward the immigration issue and refuse to fulfill their constitutional duty to enforce laws already on the books. Now, they want to block our efforts to secure Alabama's borders and prevent our jobs and taxpayer dollars from disappearing into the abyss that illegal immigration causes."
Hammon said the Justice Department could make headway on the immigration issue if it would "put as much effort into solving the illegal immigration problem as it is putting into blocking our law and others like it..."
"The irony here would be funny if it wasn't so disappointing and downright harmful to our state," said House Speaker Mike Hubbard's spokesman, Todd Stacy. "The same federal government that has passed the buck on enforcing immigration laws is now trying to hinder Alabama from taking up the slack on enforcing the law.
Stacy called for "serious immigration reform" by the federal government.
Alabama's illegal immigration reform bill is modeled closely on that of Arizona's, which the U.S. government also fought. Key provisions to that state's law were thrown out by a judge.
The state's immigration law, widely accepted as the toughest in the nation, doesn't go into effect until September. It's already under attack by civil rights organizations and church organizations. Read the links below for details on those lawsuits.
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