Immigration law challenged in federal court

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WSFA) - The first court challenge to Alabama's new and controversial immigration law is complete.

Attorneys for the more than 40 plaintiffs argued their cases in front of Chief US District Judge Sharon Blackburn. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and two others argued on behalf of the state of Alabama and Gov. Robert Bentley.

William Orrick, an attorney with the Department of Justice argued that states can't each have their only laws for individuals. "That kind of patchwork just isn't workable" Orrick said.

He even made a claim that the unintended consequences of the bill would affect US citizens who are traveling overseas, within the United States, and people who are stopped for routine traffic violations.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also had attorneys speak on their behalf. They argued the new law would clear the way for racial profiling and they even raised issues with the education provisions in the law. They said the paperwork requirement for students in Alabama's public schools could be a sort of "mark" for students, who are in the country illegally, don't have the paperwork, or simply opt not to provide the documentation.

Judge Sharon Blackburn also turned down arguments from bishops and churches who said the new law could impede people's rights to worship the way they want. Judge Blackburn denied that the new law violated the country's Equal Services provisions.

Attorney General Luther Strange spearheaded the state's defense of the law. In a statement released later Wednesday, Strange said, ". "Let me be clear. I do not read this law as anti-immigrant and any suggestion to the contrary would be totally inconsistent with the values and aims of this State."

Strange reiterated Judge Blackburn's position that any first amendment protections would be violated in regard to freedom of religion. He said, "Nothing could be further from the truth."

Blackburn did not rule on the matter Wednesday but indicated she would likely rule before September 1, the date the new law is supposed to take effect.

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