The U.S. Department of Justice has challenged Alabama's recently passed immigration law in federal court.
Alabama's immigration policy, scheduled to take effect September 1, is similar to a law passed by Arizona last year. Both states authorized police to detain people unable to furnish documentation of their legal citizenship status upon request. In announcing the DOJ challenge to Alabama's law, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said this provision could result in the "harrassment" of legal aliens and American citizens. He also criticized Alabama's requirement that students provide their citizenship status to schools.
Holder and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano reiterated their conviction that immigration law is the province of the federal government and cannot be effectively legislated on a state-by-state basis.
The Alabama bill's sponsor, Rep. Mickey Hammon, a Republican from Decatur, told The Birmingham News he remains confident his legislation is constitutional.
Though civil rights groups are gratified the federal government has intervened to block the Alabama law, they are frustrated that officials in Washington, D.C., have not challenged a similar law in Georgia, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.