.- A federal judge approved key parts of a new Alabama law targeting illegal immigrants, but also temporarily blocked some measures. The blocked provisions include one that religious leaders said would affect their ministry and pastoral care to the undocumented.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn on Sept. 28 said the U.S. Constitution allowed Alabamaâs new requirements to report the immigration status of juvenile students in public schools and requirements that police verify the immigration status of those they suspect to be in the country illegally.
She temporarily blocked measures which made it a crime for an illegal immigrant to solicit work and criminalized the transport or harboring of an illegal immigrant, the Associated Press reports. She also temporarily blocked a provision to allow discrimination lawsuits against companies that dismiss legal workers while hiring illegal immigrants and a provision to forbid business from taking tax deductions for wages paid to workers in the country illegally.
The measures will be blocked until the judge issues a final ruling.
Both supporters and critics say the Alabama law is the nationâs toughest.
The U.S. Department of Justice said the state law encroaches on the federal governmentâs duty to enforce basic immigration law. Other opponents argued that it violated basic rights to free speech and travel. Its provision on verifying the citizenship of public school students could decrease enrollment and increase immigrantsâ fears, critics say.
Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile has joined several Protestant denominations in opposition to the law. They said it threatens the Catholic Churchâs ministry to undocumented immigrants and makes it illegal for a Catholic priest to baptize undocumented immigrants, hear their confessions or preach the Gospel to them.
In an Aug. 1 letter to his dioceseâs Catholics, Archbishop Rodi said the law makes it illegal to encourage undocumented immigrants to come to Mass or to give them a ride to Mass. He predicted its provisions would affect St. Vincent de Paul chapters and Catholic social services, criminalizing those who give a disabled person a ride to the doctor or give emergency food, clothing or financial assistance.
âThis law,â the archbishop said, âattacks our very understanding of what it means to be a Christian.â
Speaking on behalf of the U.S. bishopsâ migration committee, Archbishop JosÃ© H. Gomez of Los Angeles backed Archbishop Rodi. He said the Catholic Churchâs mandate is to provide for âthe pastoral and social care of all Godâs children.â
âGovernment should not infringe upon that duty, as Americaâs founding fathers made clear in the U.S. Constitution,â he said on Sept. 8.
Over the past decade, Alabamaâs Hispanic population has grown by 145 percent.