Archive for May 14th, 2011

May 14, 2011

5/14 – WSB (AP) – Ga. immigration law sure to face legal challenges | www.wsbradio.com

Ga. immigration law sure to face legal challenges | www.wsbradio.com.

Updated: 4:14 p.m. Saturday, May 14, 2011 | Posted: 4:11 p.m. Saturday, May 14, 2011

By GREG BLUESTEIN

The Associated Press

ATLANTA —

The tough measure cracking down on illegal immigration that has been signed into law is sure to be challenged in court before it can even be enforced.

Georgia’s law, signed into law Friday by Gov. Nathan Deal, has some provisions that echo those in a law enacted last year in Arizona and is also very similar to another enacted this year in Utah. Both have gotten tied up in the courts by lawsuits claiming they are unconstitutional, and opponents of Georgia’s law have said they plan to challenge it.

The Georgia law authorizes law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of certain suspects and to detain them if they are in the country illegally. It penalizes people who knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants in some situations and makes it a felony to present false documents or information when applying for a job.

Most parts of the new law are set to take effect July 1. A requirement for private employers with more than 10 employees to use a federal database to check the immigration status of new hires is set to be phased in over a few years.

As with any legal action, much of what plays out depends on what legal arguments are made, and which judge is picked to hear the case.

“This could go in many different directions. It’s hard to predict,” said Scott Titshaw, a professor at Mercer University’s School of Law who studies immigration law. “I won’t hazard a guess on what will happen, but I will hazard a guess the state will spend a lot of money defending the law.”

The law’s critics are mapping out their strategy. They’ll ask a judge to put the law on hold until the case is decided, and for a permanent ban to prevent the law from taking effect, said Charles Kuck, an Atlanta immigration lawyer who’s spearheading a lawsuit.

The challenge would have to prove that someone was harmed by the immigration law and that the harm is unconstitutional, which could be tough to do before the law takes effect, Kuck said. But if the lawsuit is dismissed, he said critics are ready to file a new challenge once someone is charged with violating the new statute.

Among the arguments likely to emerge in a challenge is that the new legislation violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Kuck cites a provision in the legislation that imposes a 15-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $250,000 for those who present false documents or information while applying for a job.

Attorneys will also work to point out the similarities between Georgia’s legislation and Arizona’s law, hoping that a judge will follow suit here. But Kuck said the challenge will also highlight the parts of Georgia’s legislation that he says go beyond the statutes in Arizona.

A federal judge last year blocked parts of Arizona’s law after the federal government sued, and an appeals court upheld that decision last month. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Monday the state plans to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a similar law enacted this year in Utah after civil liberties groups sued to keep it from taking effect. That judge cited similarities to the most controversial parts of Arizona’s law. A hearing is set for mid-July to determine if the law can go into effect.

The Georgia attorney general’s office wouldn’t comment on how it would defend the legislation, but Arizona and Utah attorneys have said the federal government hasn’t effectively enforced immigration law because of legislative gridlock over the issue in Washington. It’s a theory that has echoed in Georgia, where state Rep. Matt Ramsey, the bill’s sponsor, has said lawmakers were forced to take a bold stance simply because Congress hasn’t.

The outcome of the legal battle could also depend on how the challenge is raised, and who raises it.

In Arizona, the Justice Department intervened, arguing the law intrudes on its exclusive powers to regulate immigration. The government also warned it could disrupt diplomacy between the U.S. and Mexico.

A DOJ spokeswoman did not return a call and email Friday seeking comment on whether the agency would take action against the Georgia law.

The federal government declined to intervene in Utah, leaving civil rights activists to file their own complaint. The ACLU said in a lawsuit the measure was an unconstitutional burden to legal immigrants and too much like portions of Arizona’s immigration law that were tied up in court.

Third-party groups could also file lawsuits. Police officers could challenge a provision in the law that allows them to check the immigration status of suspects who can’t produce an accepted form of identification, but Titshaw said they could have a hard time proving they have standing to bring the lawsuit.

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May 14, 2011

5/14 – People Daily – Mexico criticizes new U.S. anti-immigration law – People’s Daily Online

Mexico criticizes new U.S. anti-immigration law – People’s Daily Online.

13:35, May 14, 2011

Mexico Friday criticized the U.S. state of Georgia for approving legislation targeting illegal immigrants.

“It criminalizes migration and opens spaces for the possible misapplication of the law by local officials,” Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said the U.S. lawmakers and the governor “ignored the numerous contributions of the immigrant communities to the economy and society of that state.”

Georgia state governor Nathan Deal signed the legislation, known as SB 87, into law on Friday. He said the new rules were meant to save tax dollars and allow local officials to act on migration matters that have not been addressed by the U.S. federal government.

The new law allows law enforcement officers to inquire about a suspect’s immigration status and imposes penalties on those transporting or hiring illegal immigrants.

However, similar legislation approved last year in Arizona has been partially suspended by a U.S. court.

Millions of Mexicans have immigrated to the United States in search of better economic opportunities, but the number of Mexicans heading north has fallen over the past five years.

The National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INEGI) recently reported that an average of 145,000 Mexicans have left the country annually over the past five years, compared with an annual figure of 450,000 for 2000-2005.

May 14, 2011

5/13 – CNN – Georgia governor signs controversial anti-illegal immigration law – CNN.com

Georgia governor signs controversial anti-illegal immigration law – CNN.com.

From Gustavo Valdes, CNN
May 13, 2011 4:42 p.m. EDT
Protesters set up outside the governor's office and there were threats of boycotts against the state.
Protesters set up outside the governor’s office and there were threats of boycotts against the state.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Mexico says legislators “ignored the many contributions” of immigrants
  • The bill lets law enforcement officers ask about immigration status in investigations
  • Latino groups decry the measure, threatening lawsuits and boycotts
RELATED TOPICS

Atlanta (CNN) — Despite protests outside his office and boycott threats, Georgia’s governor signed into law Friday one of the toughest anti-illegal immigration measures enacted by an individual state.

The measure, which Gov. Nathan Deal inked about a month after it cleared the Republican-dominated Georgia Legislature, allows law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status when questioning suspects in certain criminal investigations.

HB 87 also imposes prison sentences of up to one year and fines of up to $1,000 for people who knowingly transport illegal immigrants during the commission of a crime. It also asserts that workers convicted of using fake identification to get jobs could be sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $250,000.

“This legislation is a responsible step forward in the absence of federal action,” Deal said after the bill signing. “Illegal immigration places an incredible burden on Georgia taxpayers.”

As they have throughout the debate, leaders in the local Latino community railed against the measure. Among them were several dozen people who demonstrated Friday outside the governor’s office at the state Capitol, chanting, “Shame on you.”

The legislation drew threats of lawsuits targeting the bill, as well as boycotts aimed at forcing the government’s hand. The group Southerners on New Ground is calling for a national boycott of conventions and vacation travel to Georgia, while a blog entry on the website of the group Somos Georgia warned, “Veto HB 87 or Boycott! It’s your choice, Governor Deal!!”

“This is the beginning of a road that we’ll travel that will take a long time,” Teodoro Maus, president of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, said Friday in Atlanta.

Similar efforts have been pursued — with some success — targeting other states that have passed legislation aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration. Nonetheless, anti-illegal immigrant bills can still be found from coast to coast.

The National Conference of State Legislatures found that, in 2010 alone, more than 1,400 bills were introduced aiming to give individual states more of a role in immigration enforcement. Of those measures, 208 laws were enacted, 10 were vetoed, and 138 resolutions were adopted.

The best-known such effort was in Arizona. Among other things, that legislation would have required local law enforcement officers in Arizona to apprehend and help deport illegal immigrants.

The U.S. Justice Department sued, arguing that only the federal government has that authority. Last month, a three-judge panel on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Justice Department and against Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed SB 1070 into law last year. Brewer has asked the Supreme Court to lift the court order that is blocking enforcement of parts of the law.

Wade Henderson, the head of the advocacy group Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, blasted what he called Georgia’s “odious piece of legislation.” He said it was a “copycat” of the Arizona law and effectively legalizes “racial profiling.”

“Georgia’s lawmakers have not learned from Arizona’s mistakes,” Henderson said Friday in a statement. “These laws presume everyone is guilty, contradicting the fundamental American presumption that those accused are innocent until proven otherwise.”

The Mexican government added Friday that it “regrets” Deal’s decision to sign the law.

“The legislators and state executive ignored the many contributions of the immigrant community to the economy and society of Georgia,” the Mexican government said in a statement.

But some who support the Georgia legislation — including Deal and Phil Kent, a spokesman for the conservative group Americans for Immigration Control — said it is not about discrimination but rather about protecting taxpayers.

“The illegal immigrants in our state have been swamping our hospitals and schools,” Kent said. “It’s a very expensive proposition. We just want to make sure that people are welcome here and that they come here legally. And then we can cut back on the illegal immigration.”

President Barack Obama’s administration has opposed such state-specific measures, including fighting them in court, saying that having as many as 50 different immigration policies (one for each state) would be counterproductive from a law enforcement standpoint and damaging from an international relations standpoint.

Asked about HB 87 last month by CNN affiliate WSB, Obama defended the federal government’s actions.

“The truth on the matter is we’ve done more on enforcement than any previous administration,” the president said. “We have more border patrols; we have had serious crackdowns on employers who are hiring undocumented workers.”

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