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Class Action Challenging Alabama's Anti-Immigrant Law Filed

On Friday, November 18, 2011, three Alabama fair housing groups and a class of victims filed a federal class-action lawsuit challenging a provision of Alabama's anti-immigrant law, alleging that it violates the Fair Housing Act, subjects individuals to criminal charges and threatens to leave families across the state homeless.

The lawsuit challenges a provision of the state's new anti-immigrant law that criminalizes "business transactions" between the state and people who cannot prove their immigration or citizenship status. The Alabama Department of Revenue is using this provision to require people who own, maintain, or keep mobile homes in Alabama to prove their lawful immigration status before they can obtain or renew an identification decal that Alabama law requires for all mobile homes.

The lawsuit charges that this provision is a violation of the Fair Housing Act. It also alleges that the law is unconstitutional and usurps the federal government's authority to enforce immigration law.

The case was filed by two undocumented Latino immigrants in Elmore County (and all other similarly situated people in Alabama) who cannot renew their decals under the law because they would be guilty of engaging in a "business transaction" with the state - a felony under the state's anti-immigrant law, HB 56. The named plaintiffs risk being charged with a misdemeanor if they do not purchase the decals, and may also face fines for failing to register their mobile home by the statewide deadline. This situation places the men and their families in danger of being forced from their homes.

The three fair housing organization plaintiffs are the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center (based in Montgomery), the Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama (based in Birmingham) and the Center for Fair Housing, Inc. (based in Mobile).