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Justice Department sues over state immigration law

During the last legislative session and after contentious debate, Florida lawmakers did not pass an immigration bill. So far, however, fiver other states have enacted legislation aimed at immigration issues. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Monday challenging a state immigration law due to take effect September, 1, in our neighboring state of Alabama.

Many immigration attorneys in South Florida, as across the nation, are keeping an eye on the developments across the nation as individual states look to pass immigration laws. To date, five states have passed some form of state immigration law.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the Justice Department intends to file lawsuits challenging any state immigration law to the extent the agency finds the state law interferes with federal law. In a statement released this week regarding the new lawsuit, Holder says "Setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility that cannot be addressed through a patchwork of state emigration laws."

The Alabama law at issue in the new lawsuit requires local law enforcement to check the immigration status of persons the police suspect are undocumented immigrants during any type stop, such as a traffic stop. The measure requires private businesses in the state to use the federal E-Verify system when determining a worker's employment eligibility in the United States. The state law also makes it a crime to rent to an undocumented immigrant, or to transport an undocumented foreign national on any public street.

The Justice Department seeks to block the state measure from taking effect, arguing that the law is invalid as it conflicts with federal law that preempt the state's ability to set immigration policy.

Source: Bloomberg, "Alabama Immigration Law Improperly Encroaches on Federal Power, U.S. Says," Andrew Harris 1 Aug 2011

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