BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In a blow to Alabama's immigration law, a federal appeals court sided with the Obama administration on Friday when it blocked public schools from checking the immigration status of students.
The decision from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta also said police can't charge immigrants who are unable to prove their citizenship, but it let some of the law stand, giving supporters a partial victory. The decision is only temporary, and a final ruling isn't expected for months, after judges review more arguments.
Unlike crackdowns in other states, Alabama's law was left largely in effect for about three weeks by a federal judge, long enough to frighten Hispanics and drive them away from the state. Construction businesses said Hispanic workers had quit showing up for jobs, and schools said students had stopped coming to class.
While the long-range implications of the decision remain to be seen, immigrants celebrated the ruling. Word spread quickly through the state's Hispanic community as Spanish-language radio stations aired the news.
The judges let stand part of the law that allows police to check a person's immigration status during a traffic stop. And it's still a felony for an illegal immigrant to do business with the state for basic things such as getting a driver's license, the judges ruled.
The Obama administration and a group of immigrant advocates such as the ACLU sued the state of Alabama after the law was passed in June. A federal judge upheld much of it late last month, and the Obama administration and the groups appealed.