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Notary Bulletin

New Alabama Immigration Laws Facing Legal Challenges, Impact On Notaries And Consumers Unclear

A federal judge earlier this week blocked Alabama’s contentious immigration law —which was scheduled to go into effect today — due to the ongoing court challenges being made by the U.S. Department of Justice and various advocacy groups.

The immediate impact on Notaries remains unclear amid the legal wrangling. However, Notaries remain obligated to serve all consumers making lawful requests for notarizations within their jurisdictions.

Considered by many to be the toughest immigration legislation in the nation, the law in its current form includes the following statewide provisions:

  • Individuals who knowingly assist or transport an illegal immigrant can face criminal charges
  • Public schools are required to determine citizenship status of all incoming students
  • Law enforcement is authorized to check the citizenship status of any individual stopped for any reason, including routine traffic stops
  • Police are authorized to detain anyone unable to produce proper documentation if stopped for any reason
  • All business are required to use the federal E-Verify system to confirm the legal status of all new hires (provision takes effect in 2012)
  • Businesses who knowingly employ illegal immigrants can face fines and having their business license suspended or revoked

U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn is blocking the law for a month in order to review its constitutionality, but the injunction could be lifted if she issues her ruling prior to the September 29 deadline. The law follows on the heels of similarly stringent immigration laws passed in Arizona, Georgia, and Indiana. Given the ongoing judicial challenges, Alabama Deputy Secretary of State Emily Thompson said her office is unable to comment.

The NNA reminds Notaries to always adhere to state law and employ sound notarial practices, as detailed in its Recommended Notary Practices. Notaries have an ethical obligation to perform any lawful notarization where the signer presents satisfactory evidence of identity, and there is no other information indicating that the transaction is unlawful or improper. Notaries must also avoid offering any advice or assistance that could cross the line into unauthorized practice of law.

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