BIRMINGHAM, AL – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today filed a federal challenge to Alabama's draconian anti-immigrant law. Modeled on Arizona's infamous SB 1070 but taking it to even greater extremes, the Alabama law is considered the most pernicious anti-immigrant state law to date.

The DOJ lawsuit follows on the heels of HICA v. Bentley, a class-action challenge asserting that the law is unconstitutional on multiple grounds, filed on July 8 by MALDEF and a coalition of civil rights organizations. On July 21, the coalition filed a request that the court block the law from taking effect, pending a final ruling on the law's constitutionality. The hearing to determine whether the court should enjoin the law has been set for August 24, 2011 in the civil rights coalition case.

The following statements can be attributed to various members of the coalition:

Victor Viramontes, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund National Senior Counsel:
"It is appropriate that the Department of Justice has sued to block Alabama's illegal and discriminatory law that unfairly targets Latinos."

Linton Joaquin, general counsel, National Immigration Law Center:
"Today, the federal government rightly asserted that states cannot lawfully ignore the U.S. Constitution and enact their own sweeping immigration laws. Alabama's law - like its ideological predecessors in Arizona, Utah, Indiana, and Georgia - is an affront to our American and constitutional values. We welcome the federal government's challenge, and we look forward to continuing our own legal battle to permanently remove this law from Alabama's lawbooks."

Sam Brooke, attorney, Southern Poverty Law Center:
"It has been clear from the start that this law is blatantly overreaching and seriously flawed. We welcome the federal government's involvement in preventing this dangerous and costly law from going into effect."

Cecilia Wang, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project:
"We applaud the government for taking action to stop Alabama's anti-immigrant law. Today's lawsuit will help protect the civil rights of Alabamians against legislation that mandates unlawful police searches and seizures in the name of immigration enforcement."

Olivia Turner, executive director, ACLU of Alabama:
"We welcome the federal government's effort to block Alabama's unconstitutional HB 56. We hope this law will be enjoined, just like the law in Arizona that inspired it."

Erin Oshiro, senior staff attorney, Asian American Justice Center, a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice:
"It is encouraging that the Department of Justice decided to challenge Alabama's anti-immigrant bill. This move sends a strong signal to Alabama and other states that the federal government takes its immigration authority seriously and serves as a warning to states considering these types of unconstitutional laws."

Pablo Alvarado, director, National Day Laborer Organizing Network:
"The suit filed by the DOJ is an acknowledgement of the civil rights crisis caused by the Arizonification of our country and deepened in states like Alabama and Georgia where they have built upon Arizona's laws. We welcome the administration's action but see it as treating the symptom rather than the illness. More easily than court proceedings, President Obama could bring relief to our communities with the stroke of a pen."

Attorneys on the case include Brooke , Mary Bauer , Andrew Turner, Michelle Lapointe, Dan Werner, and Naomi Tsu of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Cecillia D. Wang, Katherine Desormeau, Kenneth J. Sugarman, Andre Segura, Elora Mukherjee, Omar C. Jadwat, Lee Gelernt, Michael K. T. Tan of the American Civil Liberties Union and Freddy Rubio of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama; Joaquin, Karen C. Tumlin, Tanya Broder, Shiu-Ming Cheer, Melissa S. Keaney, and Vivek Mittal of the National Immigration Law Center; Sin Yen Ling of the Asian Law Caucus; Oshiro of the Asian American Justice Center; Foster Maer, Ghita Schwarz and Diana Sen of Latino Justice; Thomas Saenz, Nina Perales, Viramontes, Amy Pederson, and Martha Gomez of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Jessica Karp of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network; G. Brian Spears, Ben Bruner, Herman Watson, Jr., Eric J. Artrip and Rebekah Keith McKinney.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund