The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Today’s decision only bolsters my confidence that we, the representatives of the law abiding citizens of Georgia, have acted within our authority as set out in Federal law and the Constitution.
Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold an Arizona immigration enforcement law drew mixed reactions from supporters and opponents of a similar measure Georgia enacted this month.
Charles Kuck, an Atlanta-area immigration attorney and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the court’s decision will not dissuade him and others from challenging certain parts of Georgia’s House Bill 87 in court before the law takes effect July 1.
“There are other parts of HB 87 that are and remain unconstitutional, and we will be going forward with litigation on those issues,” said Kuck, a board member with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.
Meanwhile, the sponsor of Georgia’s HB 87 — Republican Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City — hailed the court’s decision.
“I think the U.S. Supreme Court got this decision exactly right,” Ramsey said, “and I am glad to see the court uphold the principles of federalism delineated in the United States’ Constitution by recognizing that states clearly do have a role in addressing the issues posed by illegal immigration.”
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law that punishes businesses that hire illegal immigrants and requires companies to use a federal program called E-Verify. That program helps businesses confirm their new hires are eligible to work in the United States.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and some civil rights groups sued to block that law in court, arguing it is unconstitutional.
This month, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed HB 87 into law. Like Arizona’s law, Georgia’s measure includes a requirement for businesses to use E-Verify. Opponents of HB 87 argued that requirement would create additional red tape and costs for Georgia businesses.
Kuck said his group had no plans to challenge the E-Verify requirement in Georgia’s new law. Instead, he and others have set their sites on other parts of HB 87, including provisions that punish people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants or use fake identification to get jobs here.
Kuck said the federal government has jurisdiction over immigration issues and state law cannot supersede federal statute. Opponents will file their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta before July 1, Kuck said.
Ramsey said the court’s decision to uphold Arizona’s law “makes clear what we have believed all long — that the requirement in HB 87 that Georgia businesses use E-Verify, which is intended to ensure Georgia has a legal workforce, is not only good policy but also a constitutional exercise of the state of Georgia’s authority to address this pressing issue.”
Republican Rep. Rich Golick of Smyrna, who cosponsored HB 87, said the court decision “only bolsters my confidence that we, the representatives of the law-abiding citizens of Georgia, have acted within our authority as set out in federal law and the Constitution.”
Gov. Nathan Deal’s office also issued a statement about the ruling Thursday.
“This ruling by the Supreme Court confirms what Gov. Deal has said all along: The state of Georgia has the power to assure that people hired in our state are here legally,” said Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Deal. “It makes perfectly good sense for the state to use a federal mechanism, E-Verify, to assure that our federal and state laws are obeyed.
“The E-Verify provisions are a major thrust of our new immigration law in Georgia. This ruling should discourage future lawsuits. Who wants to fund such suits when the court has spoken so clearly?”