When House Bill 56, one of the harshest immigration laws ever seen in the United States, was passed by the state of Alabama two years ago – back in 2011, local businesses, immigrant’s rights activists and even the federal government was in uproar. This week, on Tuesday November 26th, the Northern District of Alabama’s US District Court stepped into a settlement being argued over by the Justice Department and the state, accepting a new pact that removes the most controversial provisions of the law.
The immigration law was considered to be the strictest in the whole of the United States when signed in 2011, making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to be hired by businesses, forcing legal immigrants to have to carry their documents with them all the time, and even including a “paper, please” provision that enabled police to hold people during a traffic stop so as to check their citizenship status.
These measures and others were greeted with fury by people not just in Alabama but all over the United States, with legal challenges following almost immediately; the most powerful one being brought by the Justice Department itself. Now, following two years of protracted negotiations, a settlement that strikes down the great majority of the law that was reached by the state and federal authorities has been upheld by a federal district judge.
The settlement bans the enforcement of the three most controversial provisions, as well as a further four, which were deemed unconstitutional as they undermined the efforts of federal immigration enforcement and conflicted with federal law.