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On March 16, 2012, IRLI attorney Garrett Roe filed a friend of the court brief with the Federal Appeals Court in Atlanta, supporting Alabama’s Commissioner of Revenue Julie Magee in a lawsuit filed by attorneys representing MALDEF and the SPLC. The case is Alabama Fair Housing Center v. Magee. That case was originally filed in the Middle District of Alabama, and challenges the Commissioner’s practice of requiring proof of lawful presence to obtain a registration decal for motor homes in the State under HB 56, Section 30. Section 30 prohibits Alabama from entering into business transactions with the State. Access the full brief below.
On December 12, 2011, the Alabama district court preliminarily enjoined Section 30 as applied to mobile home registrations. The Alabama district court held that Section 30’s application was preempted and violated the Federal Fair Housing Act because it was enacted with a discriminatory purpose and caused a “disparate impact” on Latinos and Hispanics. The state defendants appealed to the Eleventh Circuit.
IRLI’s amicus brief focuses solely on the flawed fair housing claims. IRLI argues that the Fair Housing Act (FHA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin. However, the FHA does not restrict denial of housing on the basis of immigration status. Section 30 denies mobile home registration decals to individuals who are unlawfully in the country. IRLI also argues that the plaintiffs have not alleged a proper FHA disparate impact claim, which requires a showing that the law has a negative impact on a particular race or ethnicity. The plaintiffs have not shown a disparate impact because their complaints do not focus on the individuals who are actually affected by this law—unlawfully present mobile home owners. Finally, IRLI identifies the numerous state interests in controlling illegal immigration that Alabama has for enacting and enforcing HB 56, Section 30.
IRLI’s brief emphasized that Alabama HB 56, and specifically Section 30, expressly prohibit discrimination on its face. IRLI also examines the statements by six legislators out of one hundred and forty that the district court viewed as discriminatory. IRLI points out that the most objectionable statements were by two legislators who actually voted against HB 56!
“Special interests seeking to promote uncontrolled immigration often try to play the race card,” noted IRLI General Counsel Mike Hethmon. “Our brief explains for the court why there is a fundamental difference between illegal immigration-- an act which our Supreme Court has confirmed is a voluntary instance of lawbreaking-- and national origin, an immutable characteristic like race.”
|US v AL_IRLI Amicus Brief_3-16-2012.pdf||209.5 KB|