The Obama administration is appealing a judge's decision in Alabama that upheld key parts of the nation's strictest state immigration law, including requirements for the police and school officials to question the status of persons, including children, who may be in the country illegally.
U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn cleared the way Wednesday for much of Alabama's new law to take effect. School officials now face the task of determining the citizenship of newly enrolled students.
Late Friday, the Justice Department filed a motion asking for the judge's decision to be put on hold temporarily so the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta can weigh the issue.
"Alabama has no authority to regulate in the area of immigration," the department's lawyers said. By contrast, they said, the "federal government's authority in matters of immigration is plenary and exclusive."