A federal appeals court Friday blocked certain parts of an onerous Alabama anti-immigration law from going into effect while the Obama administration tries to knock the statute down.

A three-judge panel for the Atlanta-based Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals placed a temporary injunction on enforcing part of the law requiring suspected illegal immigrants to carry papers and a part that makes schools collect the immigration status of new students and their parents.

It is a mixed ruling for the Obama administration, but the U.S. Department of Justice in a statement approved the court's decision to put on hold parts of the law that has caused an exodus of Hispanics from the state, with many impacted families keeping their children out of school.

We are pleased that the Eleventh Circuit has blocked Alabama's registration provisions which criminalized unlawful presence and chilled access to a public education, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. We continue to believe that the other key provisions we challenged are also preempted, and we look forward to the upcoming consideration by the court of appeals of the merits of the appeal.  

Still, the court allowed Alabama to require law enforcement officials to get the immigration status of anyone detained or arrested and suspected of being an illegal immigrant, bar state courts from enforcing contracts with illegal immigrants and create a felony for an illegal immigrant to do business with the state.

That ban on illegal immigrants doing business with the state led one Alabama town to warn residents that water service could be cut to homes of those who cannot produce a state picture ID or driver's license.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, a Republican, said his office disagreed with the ruling, but are pleased that the court has allowed the state to proceed enforcing some of the act's central provisions. We will continue to vigorously defend the law as we proceed through the appeals process.

Immigration Issue Heats Up

Alabama is one of several states, such as Georgia and Arizona, to implement a law this year aimed at making life for illegal immigrants difficult. Supporters of these laws say they are addressing an illegal immigrant problem in their state created by the federal government's inaction.

The Obama administration sued Alabama, arguing that immigration is the federal government's domain and that the state law is unconstitutional. In a lower federal court, a judge refused to block the law's toughest provisions. The Obama administration appealed that decision to the Eleventh Circuit, asking for an injunction while its case is pending.

The administration has also challenged Arizona's anti-immigration law. South Carolina, meanwhile, was hit this week with a lawsuit from the ACLU over its immigration law.