On October 7th, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an appeal with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta seeking a temporary injunction prohibiting Alabama’s immigration law (H.B. 56) from going into effect. A few days later, the Circuit Court blocked two provisions of the law from remaining in the effect while the appeal of the district court’s ruling continues, namely section 10 (making it a state crime to be undocumented in Alabama) and Section 28 (requiring public school students to prove their immigration status).

The bill would implement, among other things, a mandatory statewide E-Verify program, provide government officials the power to arrest and detain those suspected of being in the country illegally, and would make it a crime for undocumented workers to apply for a job. DOJ claimed that the legislation "invites discrimination against many foreign-born citizens and lawfully present aliens." DOJ's request for an injunction would delay H.B. 56 from going into effect until lingering questions regarding its constitutionality are resolved. DOJ, in particular, took issue with the “panoply of new state offenses that criminalize, among other things, an alien's failure to comply with federal registration requirements that were enacted pursuant to Congress's exclusive power to regulate immigration."

DOJ’s appeal follows Federal District Court Judge Sharon Lovelace’s September 28th ruling in U.S. v. State of Alabama, 11-14532 upholding much of the bill. Judge Lovelace issued a preliminary injunction against several sections of the bill that she ruled may be pre-empted by federal immigration law. These sections include a provision that would have made illegal the harboring or transporting of illegal immigrants, and another that would have prohibited illegal immigrants from attending or enrolling in state universities. Lovelace's ruling, if upheld, would enact the nation’s strongest immigration legislation to date.