Alabama Immigration Law (Act No. 2011-535)
Central Alabama Fair Housing Center v. Magee
On November 18, 2011, a lawsuit focused on Section 30 of Act No. 2011-535, as it
applies to certain requirements concerning manufactured homes, was filed in
the Middle District of Alabama. Central Alabama Fair Housing Center v. Magee,
Case No. 2:11-cv-00982-MHT-CSC (M.D. Ala., pending). The case is assigned
to the Honorable Myron H. Thompson.
The Plaintiffs are an illegal alien and three organizations that focus on housing
issues. (There were originally two illegal aliens bringing suit, but one of them
voluntarily dismissed his claims.) The Plaintiffs seek to certify a
class of illegal aliens who own, maintain, or keep a manufactured home in Alabama,
as well as a subclass of those persons who are Latino.
The State Defendant is Julie P. Magee, the State Revenue Commissioner. The Honorable
Jimmy Stubbs, the Judge of Probate for Elmore County, is also named as a defendant.
The Attorney General’s Office represents Commissioner Magee.
The Plaintiffs allege that Section 30 is preempted, unconstitutional, and in
violation of the federal Fair Housing Act, insofar as it applies to business transactions
required by Ala. Code § 40-12-255. That provision requires that
persons who own, maintain or keep manufactured homes in the State pay an annual
registration fee and receive an identification decal, which is to be posted on the
home. Section 40-12-255 additionally requires that manufactured homes may
only be moved on the State’s roads and highways if a moving permit has been
The Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary
The Plaintiffs immediately asked
for both a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction. A
preliminary injunction is granted when a court determines that the plaintiffs have
a substantial likelihood of winning on the merits and that the equities favor an
injunction issuing. A preliminary injunction only remains in place while the
litigation continues through discovery, additional briefing, trial (if one is needed),
and an ultimate decision on the merits. A temporary restraining order is similar,
but remains in place for a very short time. Neither the issuance of a
temporary restraining order nor the issuance of a preliminary injunction means that
the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail.
Commissioner Magee filed an
opposition to the Plaintiffs’ motion. She also filed numerous documents from the
Northern District litigation, a
motion asking to transfer the case to the Northern District,
and a motion seeking
to prevent the Plaintiffs from being allowed to call State Legislators as witnesses,
in that such testimony is not relevant.
The Court held a hearing on November 23, 2011, and took testimony. Later that
day, the Court entered a temporary
restraining order. The TRO was originally scheduled to automatically
expire on December 7, but was extended to December 12 in order to give the Court
more time to consider whether a preliminary injunction should issue.
On November 28, 2011, Commissioner Magee filed: a notice of compliance with the Court’s TRO, which
included her memorandum to
local officials notifying them of the TRO; supplemental evidence concerning verification of an
alien’s lawful presence in the United States; a motion to dissolve the TRO based on the supplemental
evidence; and proposed
findings of fact for the Court’s consideration in evaluating whether
a preliminary injunction should issue.
The Court denied the
motion to dissolve the temporary restraining order.
On December 5, 2011, Commissioner Magee filed a supplemental brief and evidence in opposition to the Plaintiffs’
motion for a preliminary injunction.
On December 12, 2011, the Court granted the Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary
Julie Magee and Jimmy Stubbs, and all those acting in concert with them, are preliminarily
ENJOINED from requiring any person who attempts to pay the annual registration fee,
required by 1975 Ala. Code § 40-12-255, to prove his or her U.S. citizenship
or lawful immigration status" and "from refusing to issue the manufactured home
deal, required by [the statute] to any person because that person cannot prove his
or her U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status." Additionally Commissioner
Magee was required to "notify immediately all county officials, who are responsible
for enforcing the manufactured home registration requirements of 1975 Ala. Code
§ 40-12-255, of this preliminary injunction." The Court further "DECLARE[D]
that it is not a criminal violation of § 30 of HB 56 for an individual who
owns, maintains, or keeps a manufactured home to make or attempt to make a registration
payment and obtain a registration decal without providing proof of U.S. citizenship
or lawful immigration status."
Commissioner Magee has appealed.
Commissioner Magee's Motion to Dismiss
On December 9, 2011, Commissioner Magee filed a motion to dismiss. Thereafter, she moved to submit, in support of that motion, a memorandum explaining that it is no longer
considered a business transaction within the scope of Section 30 for a person to
pay the annual registration fee and obtain a decal pursuant to Ala. Code §
40-12-255. The Court granted the motion to supplement.
On January 9, 2012, Commissioner Magee filed a reply in support of her motion to dismiss. She
argued both that the case is now moot and that the Plaintiffs lack standing. The
next day, the Court
ordered additional briefing as to whether the case is moot, whether
the need for a preliminary injunction remains, and whether it can dissolve the preliminary
injunction while the appeal is pending. On January 17, 2012, Commissioner
Magee responded that
the preliminary injunction is not needed for the same reasons that the case is moot,
and that, if the Court agrees, the better path is for the Court to indicate that
it would dissolve the injunction if the case were remanded to it for that purpose
by the appellate court. On January 31, 2012, Commissioner Magee filed further
support of her arguments.
Summary as of February 9, 2012