Federal judge blocks Ala. illegal immigration law

August 29, 2011 - 3:20 PM

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of Alabama's new law cracking down on illegal immigration, ruling Monday that she needed more time to decide whether the law opposed by the Obama administration, church leaders and immigrant-rights groups is constitutional.

The brief order by U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Blackburn means the law won't take effect as scheduled on Thursday. The ruling was cheered by opponents who have compared the law to old Jim Crow-era statutes against racial integration.

But Blackburn didn't address whether the law is constitutional, and she could still let all or parts of the law take effect later. The judge said she will issue a longer ruling by Sept. 28.

Instead, she said she needs more time to consider lawsuits filed by the Justice Department, private groups and individuals that claim the state is overstepping its bounds with the law.

Both supporters and opponents say Alabama's law is the nation's toughest against illegal immigration. Among other things, it would require schools to verify the citizenship status of students. Officials say it wouldn't prevent illegal immigrants from attending public schools.