Archive for May 13th, 2011

May 13, 2011

5/13 – Georgia Bulletin – New Immigration Law ‘Dividing Us,’ Bishop Zarama Says

New Immigration Law ‘Dividing Us,’ Bishop Zarama Says.

Published: May 12, 2011

ATLANTA—Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 into law May 13. Legal challenges to the new law are expected and might delay implementation, but it is scheduled otherwise to take effect July 1.

The Catholic bishops of Georgia were among those who opposed its passage. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, Auxiliary Bishop Luis R. Zarama of Atlanta, and Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah issued a joint statement in March asking instead for comprehensive immigration reform to be enacted at the federal level.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta has now scheduled a meeting on Thursday, May 19, at the Catholic Center in Smyrna for all its priests and deacons to talk about what is in the law and what the impact is expected to be on parishes and individuals. Four additional meetings will be held in May and June for lay Catholics to receive information and have their questions answered.

Concerns have been raised about all people continuing to have access to the pastoral and sacramental life of the church and what impact the law might have on social services, works of mercy and ministries.

Evening meetings from 6-8 p.m. will be held Thursday, May 26, at St. Matthew Church, Winder; Monday, June 13, at St. Matthew Church, Tyrone; Thursday, June 16, at the Catholic Center, Smyrna; and Thursday, June 30, at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Cartersville. Frank Mulcahy, executive director of the Georgia Catholic Conference, and Jennifer Bensman, Catholic Charities Atlanta immigration legal services director, will give presentations.

The Georgia law imposes new criminal penalties on anyone employing illegal immigrants. It also imposes new criminal penalties on anyone who uses fraudulent identification in order to get a job and on those who transport or “harbor” illegal immigrants. The law also gives law enforcement officers in the state the power to enforce federal immigration laws in certain circumstances and requires most private employers to use a federal verification system known as E-Verify to screen those who have been hired for jobs.

In an interview May 13, Bishop Zarama said from his perspective as a pastor who works in multicultural and multilingual parishes, the law’s shadow aims “to make us afraid to keep serving our people . . . to make me afraid to spend time with them.“

“That is awful,” he said.

A native of Colombia, South America, who became an American citizen, Bishop Zarama said he has met many people in North Georgia who have been raised in the United States since they were small children, gone to school here and done well, but who do not have a legal path they can take to become citizens.

“We don’t have a system now,” he said. “That is the big problem, and we are not focusing on that.”

Bishop Zarama said the law is already harmful to the lives of everyone in the community, legal residents and illegal immigrants, alike.

“The negative psychological effect of that law in Atlanta already is working,” he said. “The sad part is how that law is continually dividing us.”

“This law will affect us who are legal as much as those who are illegal,” he said.

He said he hoped that the Georgia law would be challenged in court and, in particular, he hoped that the U.S. Justice Department would challenge it as they challenged a stringent immigration measure passed by the state of Arizona in 2010. The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to strike down most of the Arizona law, in part saying the state law usurps rights of the federal government to determine immigration policy.

Speaking to the faith community, Bishop Zarama cited the scriptural account of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt when King Herod sought to kill Jesus.

He said, “We need to pray and to remember that Jesus, with his family—not because of their will, but because of their need—had to emigrate to another country.”

“That is the situation with most of our people,” Bishop Zarama said.

“And the immigrants who came many years ago, they came because they had to,” he added. “The immigration system then was different, but they were illegal then, too,” he said. “We need to use our memory and remember our past,” he said. “This country was built by immigrants.”

In a press statement, Gov. Deal said, “Illegal immigration is a complex and troublesome issue, and no state alone can fix it. We will continue to have a broken system until we have a federal solution. In the meantime, states must act to defend their taxpayers.”

He asserted that Georgians have spent “billions of dollars . . . on our schools, our hospitals, our courtrooms and our jails because of people who are in our state illegally.”

He said, “This immigration reform measure fulfills my promise to Georgians to crack down on the influx of illegal immigrants into our state. Georgia has the sixth highest number of illegal residents, and this comes at enormous expense to Georgia taxpayers.”

Here are key points in the illegal immigration law. The law:

  • Creates a new criminal offense of aggravated identity fraud for anyone willfully using fraudulent documents to get a job. A person under 21 would be punished by 1-3 years in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000. Those 21 and up would face minimally 1-10 years in jail and/or a fine up to $100,000.
  • Empowers any peace officer with probable cause to believe a person has committed a criminal offense, including a traffic offense, to investigate their immigration status if they cannot produce valid identification and detain them if they are found to be in the country illegally.
  • States that a person’s race, color or country of origin is not to be a determinant in investigating their immigration status.
  • States that a person who contacts the police to report a crime, as a witness to a crime or victim of a crime will not have their status investigated.
  • Requires that when anyone is held in county or municipal jail for any reason, an effort is made to verify that they are in the country legally and if they are not in the country legally, immigration authorities will be notified and they will be subject to detention.
  • Creates a new criminal offense: transporting or moving an illegal alien. Creates a new criminal offense: knowingly and intentionally inducing an illegal alien to enter Georgia. Penalties range from less than 1 year in jail and/or a fine to 1-5 years in jail and/or a fine.
  • Creates a new criminal offense: concealing or harboring an illegal alien. Harboring is defined to mean anything that substantially helps an illegal alien to remain in the United States. Exceptions are: a person helping infants or children, a crime victim, in a medical emergency, a person offering privately funded social services, or attorney-client representation. Penalties mirror those for transporting an illegal alien.
  • Requires any private employer with more than 10 employees to use the federal E-Verify program to determine that any newly hired employee is in the country legally. This will be effective on Jan. 1, 2012 for employers with 500 or more employees, July 2012 for employers of 100 up to 499 employees and July 1, 2013 for employers of more than 10 but fewer than 100 employees. In order to receive a business license or renew a license, businesses will have to show they are registered with E-Verify. Violation of this will be a criminal offense.
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May 13, 2011

5/13 – Georgia travel help, as state adopts “Arizona immigration law” HB 87

Georgia travel help, as state adopts “Arizona immigration law” HB 87.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Georgia travel help, as state adopts “Arizona immigration law” HB 87

The International Center of Atlanta issued a web-based 2011 International Travel Advisory for Georgia, US to help Georgians and visitors to the state of Georgia in light of the state’s adoption of new immigration-related laws.
New requirements are due to a new state law which Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal signed today known as HB 87, the ‘Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011′. The legislation which became law today creates new state crimes. Those convicted of breaking the new laws– including non-US citizens– could be punished by up to 15 years in jail and fines up to $250,000. The new rules will go into effect on July 1st, 2011.
There are significant new considerations especially for prudent non-US citizen’s traveling to and within Georgia. This website documentation will try to clearly, carefully, and factually present issues related to travel to and within the US state of Georgia. It will assist
  • foreign nationals,
  • certain US nationals from states for which Georgia will not accept driver licenses as documentation for valid proof of legal presence, as well as
  • Georgia US citizens.
HB 87’s new criminal statutes and rules relate to police stops to determine legal presence and detention, jailing, transportation, harboring, and inducing ‘illegal aliens’ to visit Georgia. Other provisions of HB 87 will require additional proof of legal presence of even some non-Georgia US citizens and permanent residents. Although they may have valid documentation, such as a non-Georgia drivers license from other US states, Georgia will not accept those state issued documentation as valid proof of legal presence.
The 2011 International Travel Advisory for Georgia US will provide information about some new and significant risks of detention, jailing and fines. Not only international undocumented visitors, but also to visitors who cannot prove their legal presence on the spot to Georgia law enforcement police will face these penalties. The 2011 International Travel Advisory for Georgia US will provide prudent precautionary measures that any non-US citizen visitor can take to ensure a safe and undisturbed visit to the US state of Georgia.
International visitors and international residents should carefully familiarize themselves with these new laws, suggests the International Center of Atlanta.

May 13, 2011

5/13 – ajc (AP) – State immigration laws may never be constitutional | ajc.com

State immigration laws may never be constitutional  | ajc.com.

National / World News 2:16 p.m. Friday, May 13, 2011

The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah legislators passed an immigration law that they were confident wouldn’t end up the same way Arizona’s version did last year: tangled up in the courts.

In this photo taken March 15, 2011, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signs into law immigration bills passed in this years legislative session, with religious, community, business and government leaders behind him in the capitol’s Gold Room in Salt Lake City. 14 hours after Utah lawmakers passed an immigration law that they were confident wouldn’t end up in the same legal tangle as Arizona’s, a judge ruled that they were wrong. Other states are keeping watch as they all try to address the problem of illegal immigration without federal intervention. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Paul Fraughton) DESERET NEWS OUT; LOCAL TV OUT

FILE – In this Aug. 13, 2010 file photo, protestor John Osburn, rear, expresses his discontent as Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, presents his immigration bill at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City. Utah lawmakers passed the strict law confident it wouldn’t end up in the same legal tangle as Arizona’s, but a Federal judge has blocked the law that called for police to check the immigration status of those detained for serious crimes. Other states are keeping watch as they all try to address the problem of illegal immigration without federal intervention. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Francisco Kjolseth)

In this photo taken March 15, 2011, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signs into law immigration bills passed in this years legislative session, with religious, community, business and government leaders behind him in the capitol’s Gold Room in Salt Lake City. Utah lawmakers passed a strict immigration law confident it wouldn’t end up in the same legal tangle as Arizona’s, but a Federal judge has blocked the law that called for police to check the immigration status of those detained for serious crimes. Other states are keeping watch as they all try to address the problem of illegal immigration without federal intervention. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Paul Fraughton) DESERET NEWS OUT; LOCAL TV OUT

But 14 hours after Utah’s law went into effect this week, it, too, was before a federal judge.

As the case goes through the courts, other states grappling with illegal immigration are paying close attention. In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal signed a comprehensive immigration bill Friday that includes an enforcement measure very similar to Utah’s version. Most parts of the law are effective July 1.

Alabama has one, too, and it is moving close to passage in the Legislature.

The halting of Utah’s law could cause them concern. After all, state lawmakers worked at length with attorneys to try to eliminate constitutional issues a federal judge raised with Arizona’s law.

Despite those refinements, the bottom line remains the same, legal scholars say. Immigration is enforced by the federal government, and any state attempting to tell the federal government how to enforce immigration laws is stepping into potentially unconstitutional territory.

So far, courts have agreed with that assessment. The hold placed on parts of Arizona’s law by a district court judge was upheld in April by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and earlier this week Gov. Jan Brewer said she plans to appeal the rulings to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The main reason the Arizona statute is bad is because it’s the state taking over immigration law,” said Arizona State University law professor Paul Bender. “The Utah law is unconstitutional for the same reason.”

While Utah’s law may still be overturned because it usurps federal authority, the state did narrow its law significantly and made it not as “blatantly unconstitutional” by trying to fix two other issues the courts have taken with Arizona’s law, Bender said.

One change made by Utah and Georgia was the elimination of a clause found in the Arizona law that would compel police to check the citizenship status of anyone who they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in the country illegally — whether a crime has been committed or not. Because police would have been forced to determine immediately whether a person was potentially illegal, racial profiling was almost guaranteed, Bender said.

Alabama’s proposed law contains the reasonable suspicion clause, but state Sen. Scott Beason, R-Gardendale, has maintained the bill is constitutionally sound.

Utah police will be required to check the citizenship status of anyone arrested for a major crime. For minor offenses, such as traffic violations, the police can check at their discretion, but only if the person stopped doesn’t have valid identification.

Georgia police will be given the power to check citizenship for all state offenses, but not required unless a person is booked into jail.

Another change both states made was focusing enforcement on people committing a crime, instead of the Arizona approach that allowed police to check almost anyone they legally encounter, Bender said.

When coupled with a program beginning in 2013 that will allow illegal immigrants with jobs to live and work in the state, Utah finds itself cast as the considerate northern neighbor to Arizona.

Protests in Utah have been minor. The death threats and widespread boycotts that followed the passage of Arizona’s law in 2010 are non-existent. Georgia, on the other hand, has seen multiple protests with thousands of people participating and national groups are threatening boycotts, despite the two laws being almost identical.

Utah lawmakers credit their public relations success to the Utah Compact, a set of principles drafted by religious and business leaders.

Supporters of Utah’s overhaul package claim it uses the compact’s ideals to balance compassion and enforcement. Most of the criticism of the package has focused on the guest worker program, which opponents describe as amnesty.

But the missing outrage in Utah doesn’t diminish the constitutional hurdles, especially since the federal ruling on Arizona’s law focused on federal control of immigration.

“We understand the desire of the defendants to distance themselves from the Arizona law,” said Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for the National Immigration Law Center, who sued the state along with the American Civil Liberties Union. “But if you read the text of the bill, the same issues are at play.”

Like Arizona, the Utah, Georgia and Alabama laws grants broader powers to police than the federal government permits. Simply detaining a suspected illegal immigrant who has not committed a major crime — which could happen in all of the states — is going beyond a state’s authorized authority.

“The core immigration power is control of the border,” said Raquel Aldana, a law professor at University of the Pacific in California. “They control it by deciding who can come in, who can’t come in and who has to leave. There is not much of an argument a state can make against that power.”

But the sponsors of the laws in Georgia and Utah disagree.

Georgia state Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, said Arizona ran afoul of the Constitution because they made illegal immigration a state crime, as well. That would mean the state could imprison an illegal immigrant even if the federal government told them to release the person.

“We didn’t create any offense based strictly on immigration status,” Ramsey said. “We’re truly about identifying individuals in the country illegally. What happens after that is up to the federal government.”

Despite the temporary restraining order issued against Utah’s law, Ramsey said the second-generation enforcement laws will eventually pass legal muster.

That same confidence is expressed by Utah supporters. The sponsor of House Bill 497, Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, said he spent months publicly discussing the proposal — which initially was identical to Arizona’s law — and thoroughly reviewed the Arizona court ruling before passing the bill in early March.

“We were doing the due diligence to make sure it’s constitutional,” Sandstrom said.

Just as Arizona’s court fight helped shape laws passed this year, future legislation may very well use Utah or Georgia’s problems for guidance, said University of Utah law professor Wayne McCormack. But without federal approval, states will likely continue to run afoul of the Constitution.

“The question is whether the federal government will allow the states to have a role,” McCormack said. “That’s going to be the biggest issue for the courts.”

______

Associated Press writers Kate Brumback in Atlanta and Phillip Rawls in Montgomery, Ala., contributed to this report.

Josh Loftin can be reached at http://twitter.com/joshloftin.

___

May 13, 2011 02:16 PM EDT

May 13, 2011

5/13 – ajc.com – Governor signs Arizona-style immigration bill into law | ajc.com

Governor signs Arizona-style immigration bill into law  | ajc.com.

Georgia Politics 2:04 p.m. Friday, May 13, 2011

New Georgia law will now empower police to check status, require employer verifications

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday signed one of the nation’s toughest immigration enforcement measures into law amid threats of court challenges and economic boycotts targeting Georgia.

A  group of protestors gathered in front of the Capitol on Friday, chanting and waving, as Gov. Nathan Deal signed an Arizona-style immigration enforcement measure.

Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com A group of protestors gathered in front of the Capitol on Friday, chanting and waving, as Gov. Nathan Deal signed an Arizona-style immigration enforcement measure.

Partly patterned after a stringent law Arizona enacted last year, Georgia’s House Bill 87 empowers police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects. The measure also sets new hiring requirements for employers and penalizes people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants here.

Deal, who campaigned for governor last year on bringing an Arizona-style law to Georgia, called his signature on HB 87 an historic moment.

“While I believe immigration is an issue that… should be addressed at the federal level,” he told reporters, “this legislation I believe is a responsible step forward in the absence of federal action.”

Deal and other supporters of HB 87 have hailed it as a victory for taxpayers who have borne the cost of illegal immigration in Georgia. A recent estimate by the Pew Hispanic Center puts the number of illegal immigrants in Georgia at 425,000, the seventh-highest among the states. Those illegal immigrants, supporters of HB 87 say, are taking jobs from state residents and burdening Georgia’s public schools, hospitals and jails.

Local opponents of the measure said they have been working with some national organizations in drafting a lawsuit to challenge the measure in Atlanta’s federal district court, arguing Georgia is overstepping its bounds.

“We look forward to stopping this unconstitutional law from ever taking effect,” Charles Kuck, an Atlanta-area immigration attorney and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said Friday before Deal signed the bill.

Kuck and other opponents are hoping the federal Justice Department will join the fight and sue to block Georgia’s law as it has in Arizona. A Justice Department spokeswoman said Friday she had no comment.

Last year, a federal judge put some of the most controversial parts of Arizona’s measure on hold after the Obama administration argued they were pre-empted by federal law. A federal appeals court recently upheld that judge’s decision. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced Monday she is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

President Barack Obama waded into the debate over illegal immigration in Georgia in a televised interview last month, calling HB 87 a “mistake.”

“We can’t have 50 different immigration laws around the country,” the president said. “Arizona tried this, and a federal court already struck them down.”

Deal expressed confidence Friday, saying Georgia’s legislation “went through several iterations. Thanks to the diligence and hard work of the General Assembly I believe the final product avoids many of the pitfalls that have been alleged to exist in Arizona’s legislation.”

Many other states have considered adopting an Arizona-type law. But Utah is the only other state to do so. On Tuesday, a federal judge halted that law, citing how it is similar to Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070.

Georgia’s measure, meanwhile, has drawn stiff opposition from the state’s agricultural, landscaping, restaurant and tourism industries in recent weeks. These groups fear the law will damage the state’s economy by scaring away migrant workers and conventioneers.

For example, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau went on record last month against the law over concerns that it could hurt the region’s $10 billion tourism industry. One group — the U.S. Human Rights Network — has already announced it will cancel plans to hold its annual conference in Atlanta because of HB 87. Opponents of the measure are seeking to organize more such boycotts like those Arizona has experienced since it mounted its crackdown on illegal immigration.

HB 87’s sponsor — Republican Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City — addressed concerns from Georgia’s business sectors Friday after Deal signed the bill.

“To the extent that there is concern out there in the business community, just know we understand how important business is to our state,” Ramsey said. “Georgia is going to continue to be a business-friendly state. HB 87, though, represents our responsibility to watch the taxpayers’ bottom line just as the business community vigilantly guards their bottom line.”

Proponents of HB 87 say its most important feature is the one that targets the hiring of illegal immigrants. Many immigrants illegally enter the country to find work here. Under Georgia’s law, many employers will be required to start using a federal program called E-Verify to confirm their newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States.

Arizona has a similar E-Verify law on the books. A coalition of businesses and immigrant rights groups is suing to stop Arizona’s law, arguing it is unconstitutional. The case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

About two dozen opponents of HB 87 gathered outside of Deal’s office Friday, shouting “Shame on you” and “Undocumented and unafraid.” Dozens more demonstrated outside the state Capitol, carrying signs proclaiming “R.I.P. Southern Hospitality” and “Immigrant Rights are Human Rights.”

“This action is not only an insult to the Latino community and other immigrants, but is also an exercise in cheap political pandering that will cost our state dearly,” said Adelina Nicholls, executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.

Others praised Deal’s decision.

“House Bill 87 is good legislation and will provide law enforcement in Georgia with another tool to perform their jobs in an effective and efficient manner,” Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren said.

When provisions of Georgia’s House Bill 87 will take effect:

July 1

  • Local and state police will be empowered to arrest illegal immigrants and take them to state and federal jails.
  • People who use fake identification to get a job in Georgia could face up to 15 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines.
  • People who — while committing another crime — knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants or encourage them to come to Georgia could face penalties. First-time offenders would face imprisonment for up to 12 months and up to $1,000 in fines.
  • A seven-member Immigration Enforcement Review Board will be established to investigate complaints about local and state government officials not enforcing state immigration-related laws.
  • Government officials who violate state laws requiring cities, counties and state government agencies to use E-Verify could face fines of up to $10,000 and removal from office.
  • The state Agriculture Department will be directed to study the possibility of creating Georgia’s own guest-worker program. Some Georgia employers have complained the federal government’s guest-worker program is too burdensome and expensive.

Jan. 1

  • State and local government agencies must start requiring people applying for public benefits — such as food stamps, housing assistance and business licenses — to provide at least one “secure and verifiable” document, which could be a state or federally issued form of identification. Consular matriculation cards will not be accepted. The state attorney general’s office is required to post a list of acceptable documents on its website by Aug. 1.

Phased in:

  • Georgia businesses will be required to use the federal E-Verify program to determine whether their new hires are eligible to work legally in the United States. Businesses with 500 or more employees must start complying with this provision on Jan. 1. Businesses with 100 or more employees but fewer than 500 must start complying with this provision on July 1, 2012. This requirement applies to businesses with between 11 and 99 employees starting July 1, 2013. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees are exempt.
May 13, 2011

5/13 – ajc.com – Governor to sign Arizona-style immigration bill into law | ajc.com

Governor to sign Arizona-style immigration bill into law  | ajc.com.

Georgia Politics 8:00 a.m. Friday, May 13, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Ouafae Azhari (foreground) shouts out as other demonstrators protest  Georgia House Bill 87 outside the Capitol on the final day of the 2011 legislative session.

Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com Ouafae Azhari (foreground) shouts out as other demonstrators protest Georgia House Bill 87 outside the Capitol on the final day of the 2011 legislative session.


Gov. Nathan Deal is preparing to sign an Arizona-style immigration enforcement bill into law at the state Capitol at noon Friday.

Like a law Arizona enacted last year, Georgia’s House Bill 87 would empower police to question certain suspects about their immigration status. It would also penalize people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants in Georgia.

Much of Georgia’s bill would start taking effect July 1.

Proponents say the state needs to take immediate action because the federal government is not adequately enforcing the nation’s immigration laws. Critics say the measure is unconstitutional and will damage the state’s economy by scaring away migrant workers and conventioneers. Opponents, meanwhile, are vowing to challenge the measure in court.

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