Attorney Predicts Feds Won't Challenge Alabama Immigration Law

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The lawyer behind several recent illegal immigration laws said he'd be "surprised" if the Justice Department challenges Alabama's recently passed crackdown, claiming the Obama administration only went after Arizona because it was an election year.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley last week signed what many consider to be the toughest law in the country dealing with illegal immigration. It follows in the footsteps of similar laws in Arizona and elsewhere.

But while the Obama Justice Department famously took Arizona to court over its controversial policy, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach told Fox News he doubts the department is planning another legal challenge in Alabama.

"It's interesting. The Feds went after Arizona, but they did it in an election year," said Kobach, the attorney who helped write the bills in Arizona, Alabama and other states.

Noting the department hasn't gone after Indiana or others that have passed crackdowns on illegal immigrants, Kobach said it appears the administration was merely playing politics with the Arizona case.

"I think, unfortunately, the Justice Department is letting political calculations figure in here," he told Fox News. "They, I think, are unlikely to go after Alabama. We'll see, but I think in 2010, the climate was different.

"I'd be surprised if the Department of Justice weighs in on this one," Kobach said.

Asked whether the administration would consider challenging the Alabama law, a Justice Department representative had no comment Monday.

Though Kobach downplayed the administration's Arizona suit as political, so far the department's challenges have, in large part, held up in court.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in April refused to overturn a lower court's decision that blocked Arizona from enforcing key provisions of its law. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer plans to take her case to the Supreme Court.

The Alabama law, which takes effect Sept. 1, empowers police to arrest people suspected of being an illegal immigrant if they are stopped for another reason and requires businesses and schools to verify whether workers and students are in the country lawfully. It also makes it a crime to knowingly transport or shelter illegal immigrants.

As soon as Bentley, a Republican, signed the bill into law Thursday, the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center were vowing to defeat it in court.

"It is clearly unconstitutional. It's mean-spirited, racist, and we think a court will enjoin it," said Mary Bauer, legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"By signing this bill into law, Gov. Bentley has codified official discrimination in the state of Alabama," said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "We will take action to keep this law from going into effect to ensure that the civil rights and liberties of all Alabamans are protected."

But Kobach told Fox News the law is sound.

"The Alabama law is extremely fair and it upholds the American value of the rule of law," he said.