ATLANTA — Part of Alabama's immigration law that ordered public schools to check the citizenship status of new students was ruled unconstitutional Monday by a federal appeals court that also said police in that state and Georgia can demand papers from suspects they have detained.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Alabama schools provision wrongly singles out children who are in the country illegally. Alabama was the only state that passed such a requirement, and the 11th Circuit previously had blocked that part of the law from being enforced.
Judges said fear of the law "significantly deters undocumented children from enrolling in and attending school."
Both private groups and the Obama administration filed lawsuits to block the law.
The court, however, upheld parts of immigration laws in Alabama and Georgia allowing law enforcement to check documents for people they stop.
And the panel left in place an injunction that blocks a section of the Georgia law that allows for the prosecution of people who knowingly harbor or transport an illegal immigrant during the commission of a crime.
In Alabama, the judges sided with opponents of the law on other key points, including challenges to sections that made it illegal to harbor illegal immigrants; made it a crime for illegal immigrants to seek work; and made it a state crime for people in the country illegally not to have registration documents.