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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Portions of Kobach-written Alabama law on undocumented immigrants will not be enforced under settlement

October 31, 2013

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— Portions of a controversial Alabama immigration law, which was co-written by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, will not be enforced under a proposed settlement between the state of Alabama and civil rights groups.

Opponents of the law praised the settlement, which will now go to a federal judge for consideration.

"At the end of the day, the state of Alabama, by listening to Kris Kobach, has wasted a whole lot of taxpayer money and given itself a black eye," said Justin Cox, an attorney who worked on the case for the Immigrants' Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.

But Kobach, who has worked on stringent anti-illegal immigration measures in several states, said 11 of 17 provisions in the Alabama law would remain in effect. "I would say 11 out of 17 is doing pretty well. Perhaps the critics of the Alabama law should rethink their math," he said.

Provisions that will be blocked include one that directed public schools to ask the immigration status of students at enrollment time and another that banned unauthorized immigrants from soliciting work.

Another controversial provision that will not be enforced under the settlement is one that had allowed police to hold someone during a traffic stop solely to check that person's immigration status.

And a section that had criminalized giving a ride or renting to someone who is undocumented will be permanently blocked. The state also will pay $350,000 in attorneys' fees and costs to the coalition of groups that challenged the law.

But Kobach cited as victories portions of the law that kept intact a requirement that employers use the federal E-verify database to check on the immigration status of employees and bans on undocumented immigrants from attending state colleges and accessing government services.

But Cox, with the ACLU, said the remaining provisions of the law will have little to no "on-the-ground effect in Alabama."

He added, "Meanwhile, HB 56 has cost Alabama millions in administrative costs, economic activity and litigation expenses, all the while setting back decades its reputation regarding civil rights and race relations."

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