U.S. District Court Chief Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn blocked four key parts of Alabama's new immigration law, often referred to as "HB 56".
The judge enjoined the state from executing or enforcing section 11(a) of HB 56 – “It is unlawful for a person who is an unauthorized alien to knowingly apply for work, solicit work in a public or private place, or perform work as an employee or independent contractor in this state,” – pending issuance of the court's final judgment.
Alabama may not enforce section 13, which prohibits concealing, harboring, transporting, etc., of unlawfully present aliens, nor section 16, which concerns the taking of a state tax deduction for wages paid to an unauthorized alien employee.
Finally, the judge enjoined the state from executing or enforcing section 17, which creates a state “discrimination” cause of action based on the retention or hiring of an unauthorized alien.
Of great interest to my clients was whether the judge would block enforcement of section 15, which is basically the E-Verify part of the new immigration law. I had already told my clients it would very likely survive a challenge to its constitutionality or to interference with contracts, so I was not surprised that the judge did not block enforcement of section 15.
Section 15 says that no business entity shall knowingly employ or continue to employ an unauthorized alien and orders all Alabama businesses to enroll in E-Verify no later than April 1, 2012, and verify their employees' eligibility for employment. It's going to be expensive and a burden for my small business clients. But they can't complain if they didn't complain to their Republican legislative representatives and senators during last spring's legislative session.
And I've said it before: This federal database is dirty. Sure, it will catch a few guys named Pedro Gonzalez, but think how many Susan Smiths were born in Alabama and got married and divorced a few times and whose name entered into E-Verify will be kicked out of the system like a football.