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Federal Judge Blocks Alabama Illegal Immigration Law -- For Now

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    The Alabama Legislature passed an immigration bill similar to the controversial one in Arizona. (AP)

  • Alabama Immigration Law Hispanic Immigrants Pray.jpg

  • Alabama Immigration Law August 29.jpg

    Aug. 24: Augusta Dowd, attorney, speaks to reporters outside the federal courthouse following an all-day hearing over efforts to persuade a federal judge to block Alabama's immigration law in Birmingham, Ala. On Aug. 29, a federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of Alabama's new law cracking down on illegal immigration.

  • Alabama Immigration Law Hispanic Immigrants Pray.jpg

    Aug. 24: Hispanic protestors pray outside the federal courthouse during an all-day hearing over efforts to persuade a federal judge to block Alabama's immigration law in Birmingham, Ala. On Aug. 29 A federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of Alabama's new law cracking down on illegal immigration.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- 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.