Jump to Navigation

Central Alabama Fair Housing Center, et al. v. Julie Magee, et al.

On November 18, 2011, Relman, Dane & Colfax, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center, the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, and LatinoJustice, filed a federal class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on behalf of three Alabama fair housing groups, two individual plaintiffs, and a class of victims, alleging that a provision of Alabama's anti-immigrant law, HB 56, violates the Fair Housing Act and the Supremacy and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution and threatens to leave families across the state homeless. 

Section 30 of HB 56 impose criminal penalties against any individual who enters into, or attempts to enter into, a "business transaction" with the State or a political subdivision without proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status.  The enforcement of Section 30 by state and county officials charged with issuing annual registration tags to residents of mobile homes would have left undocumented immigrants in an impossible position: attempt to renew the mobile home tags they need and risk being charged with a felony under HB 56, or refrain from renewing tags before the November 30 renewal deadline and risk other civil and criminal penalties, including criminal prosecution and imprisonment.

On November 23, 2011, after several hours of testimony, the Honorable Myron Thompson temporarily enjoined Alabama officials from enforcing Section 30 against families who live in mobile homes.  Two weeks later, on December 12, 2011, the Court held, in a 108-page opinion, that the plaintiffs are substantially likely to prevail on their claims that the challenged enforcement of the business transactions prohibition as applied to individuals seeking to renew their mobile home registrations intentionally discriminates against and has an unlawful disparate impact on Latinos, in violation of the Fair Housing Act.  Judge Thompson further held that the plaintiffs demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on their preemption claims and that they would suffer irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction.

Based on these findings, the Court enjoined Alabama's Revenue Commissioner, a Montgomery County official, and all those acting in concert with them from (1) requiring any person who attempts to pay the annual fee required by the state's manufactured home registration law to provide documentation of his or her U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status; and (2) refusing to issue manufactured home decals to any person because that person cannot prove his or her U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status.  The Court further declared that it is not a criminal violation of Section 30 of HB 56 for an individual to apply for and obtain a registration decal without providing proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status.  The Court also ordered the Revenue Commissioner immediately to notify all other responsible county officials in the State of the preliminary injunction.

Noteworthy Pleadings

To read press coverage of the case, click on the links below: