WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) — The U.S Justice Department has challenged Alabama’s tough new immigration law, saying it conflicts with enforcement of federal immigration laws.
In court papers filed with the Northern District of Alabama court Monday, the government said provisions of the state law are at odds with federal laws and undermine the federal government’s balance of immigration enforcement priorities and objectives, the department said in a release.
The department seeks a preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement of the law, parts of which go into effect Sept. 1, arguing that the law’s operation will cause irreparable harm.
The documentation argues that while the federal government appreciates assistance and cooperation from states concerning immigration enforcement, a state cannot establish own immigration policy and pass laws in conflict with federal enforcement of the immigration laws.
Among other things, the Alabama law would require police to try to determine residency of suspected illegal immigrants. It also it would make it a crime for immigrants to work or solicit work, and bars landlords from renting to them. It also would prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving state or local public benefits and bar them from enrolling in public colleges.
Alabama’s law, if allowed to go into effect, “would result in the harassment and incarceration of lawful resident aliens — and even U.S. citizens who would not have readily available documentation to demonstrate their citizenship,” the Justice Department said.
“Today’s action 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,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said.
Last year, the Justice Department filed a similar challenge to Arizona’s controversial immigration law. A federal judge temporarily blocked key parts of that law.