HICA et al. v Robert Bentley, Luther Strange, et al.
Alabama passed an extreme anti-immigrant law in June 2011. The law threatened to chill children’s access to public schools by requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents; authorized police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops; and criminalized Alabamians for everyday interactions with undocumented individuals.
The SPLC led a coalition of civil rights groups in filing a federal class action lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional. The lawsuit charged that the law will subject Alabamians – including countless U.S. citizens and non-citizens with permission to be in the United States – to racial profiling as well as unlawful interrogations, searches, seizures and arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The lawsuit also charged that the law’s provisions regarding education would deter children from immigrant families from enrolling in public schools and bar many non-citizens lawfully within the country from attending public colleges or universities in Alabama. Such provisions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and are contrary to U.S. Supreme Court precedent. The lawsuit further charged that provisions denying individuals access to the state’s judicial system due to their immigration status violate the due process guarantee of the Constitution.
The coalition of groups challenging the law is composed of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Alabama, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian Law Caucus and the Asian American Justice Center.