Immigrant Black List Case
When Alabama legislators revised the state’s anti-immigrant law in 2012, they passed a law requiring the state to publish online the names of immigrants who are detained by law enforcement, who appear in court for any violation of state law, and who unable to prove they are not “unlawfully present aliens.” It provided no means for people to be removed from this “black list” if the listing is an error or if their immigration status changes. The Southern Poverty Law Center and its allies filed a federal lawsuit to stop this state-sanctioned “blacklisting” of immigrants, which could encourage harassment and violence.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four undocumented Latino immigrants in Montgomery County who were arrested for allegedly fishing without a license – a misdemeanor offense. Since the law requires immigrants appearing in an Alabama court to prove they are “lawfully present aliens,” they would be placed on the state’s black list.
The lawsuit describes how the law provides no process for individuals to contest their inclusion on the list. It also describes how the black list violates federal law by publicly disclosing immigration information the federal government has deemed confidential.
The list, maintained by the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts, could even include an individual’s county of residence – providing an effective tool for anyone targeting immigrants for harassment. Even before legislators required the state to maintain this black list, the SPLC’s 2012 report, Alabama’s Shame, found that Latinos in Alabama – regardless of immigration status – encountered harassment and discrimination after the state passed its first package of anti-immigrant laws in 2011.