US asks appeals court to halt Ala. immigration law

By GREG BLUESTEIN | October 7, 2011 | 11:30 AM EDT

ATLANTA (AP) — The Department of Justice has asked a federal appeals court to block enforcement of Alabama's new immigration law.

The federal government filed the challenge on Friday to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. It claimed Alabama's new law "is highly likely to expose persons lawfully in the United States, including school children, to new difficulties in routine dealings."

The law is considered by many to be the toughest immigration law in the U.S. It allows authorities to question people suspected of being in the country illegally and hold them without bond. It also lets officials check the immigration status of students in public schools.

A federal judge has upheld those two key aspects of the law, which have already taken effect.