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Federal Judge Blocks Alabama Immigration Law

Participants bow their heads in prayer during a demonstration to protest Alabama's new law against illegal immigration, in Birmingham, Ala. Now that Alabama has passed what's widely considered the nation's most restrictive state law against illegal immigr

A U.S. federal judge has temporarily blocked a controversial immigration law that was set to go into effect Thursday in the southern U.S. state of Alabama.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Lovelace said Monday she decided to block the law until September 29 so she could further consider lawsuits filed against it.

Last month, a coalition of civil rights groups filed a class action lawsuit against the measure, saying it invites racial profiling and will target for harassment anyone who looks "foreign."

The law would allow Alabama police to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally when that person is stopped for any other reason. It would also make it a crime to knowingly transport or harbor an illegal immigrant, and compel public schools to verify the immigration status of students.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice challenged the act, saying it would conflict with federal immigration policies.

In her statement Monday, Judge Lovelace said she was not addressing the merits of the law or the suits against it. She says she plans to address the legality of the measure by the end of September.

There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.