March 2, 2012
Portions of Alabama’s strict immigration law will remain in force until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on its predecessor, the Arizona statue that ignited a national firestorm in the debate over illegal immigration.
A panel of three judges from an Atlanta federal appeals court decided Thursday to put off action on lawsuits against measures in Alabama and Georgia. Oral arguments are set for April 25 before the Supreme Court over the constitutionality of Arizona’s enforcement policy.
Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and Indiana have passed legislation modeled on Arizona’s. The Justice Department has sued to block all the laws, arguing that the role of enforcement belongs solely to the federal government. Human-rights and immigrant-advocacy groups have filed separate suits claiming the laws violate individuals’ civil rights.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Arizona law by the end of its term this summer; the decision could set precedents for lower courts handling similar cases. A Supreme Court ruling could effectively settle, at least for a time, the highly charged dispute between states and the federal government over immigration enforcement.