Court: Alabama can’t check student immigration status

ATLANTA — Part of Alabama’s immigration law that ordered public schools to check the citizenship status of new students was ruled unconstitutional Monday by a federal appeals court that also said police in that state and Georgia can demand papers from criminal suspects they have detained.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Alabama schools provision wrongly singles out children who are in the country illegally. Alabama was the only state that passed such a requirement and the 11th Circuit previously had blocked that part of the law from being enforced.

Both private groups and the Obama administration filed lawsuits to block the law considered the toughest in the country.

The court, however, upheld parts of immigration laws in Alabama and Georgia allowing law enforcement to check documents for people they stop.

The panel did leave in place part of the injunction blocking a section of the Georgia law that allows for the prosecution of certain individuals who knowingly harbor or transport an illegal immigrant during the commission of a crime.

The decisions follow a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding parts of a similar law in Arizona. The Atlanta-based court referenced that decision in its opinion to lift the injunction on the suspect verification section.

In a statement, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said he was generally pleased with the ruling but disagreed with the court on the section dealing with transporting illegal immigrant still being blocked.

State Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, sponsored the Georgia bill.

“Just as we were pleased when the US Supreme Court upheld one of the center pieces of the Arizona law … we are pleased that the 11th Circuit has upheld a similar provision in our Georgia law,” Ramsey said.

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