Alabama immigration law faces legal challenge: Can it survive?

Federal lawsuits have been filed against five states that have passed tough anti-illegal-immigration bills. Here is the legal state of play for all five state laws:

5. Alabama

Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser/AP/File
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley speaks before signing into law what critics and supporters are calling the strongest bill in the nation cracking down on illegal immigration on June 9 at the state Capitol in Montgomery.

Alabama lawmakers took the Arizona law and one-upped it in a move that echoes Gov. George Wallace's schoolhouse door stand in the 1960s. Schools must check the residency status of children, and illegal immigrants are banned from state colleges and universities – though, as is also the case with other states' laws, the provisions are largely symbolic, since there is no means for enforcing the university ban nor punishments for violating it, for example.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU filed a lawsuit Friday, charging the law, which is to take effect Sept. 1, preempts federal jurisdiction, violates immigrants' Fourth Amendment protections against illegal search and seizure, illegally keeps immigrants from attending state schools, and turns "teachers, landlords, and community members into de facto immigration-enforcement agents," according to Linton Joaquin of the National Immigration Law Center.

Alabama officials have said the elementary and secondary school provision is intended not to block students from attending school, but to gauge the costs of educating illegal immigrants.

"It is important to note that our law seeks to protect immigrants who reside here legally while affecting only those who break our laws with their simple presence," said House Speaker Micky Hammon in a statement. "We cannot turn a blind eye toward those who thumb their noses at our borders and our laws."

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