Archive for June, 2011

June 30, 2011

6/30 – ajc – New Georgia law targeting illegal immigration takes effect Friday |

New Georgia law targeting illegal immigration takes effect Friday  |

Georgia Politics 1:41 p.m. Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Much of Georgia’s stringent new law aimed at illegal immigration takes effect Friday.

Sure, a federal judge on Monday put on hold two parts of the law pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the measure’s constitutionality. But those parts represent only a fraction of House Bill 87, which spans 27 pages.

Both sides in the debate over illegal immigration in Georgia are promising the court battle over the law isn’t over. Meanwhile, opponents of the measure plan to demonstrate Friday by refusing to work or shop as part of a “Day Without Immigrants.” The opponents also plan to converge Saturday on the state Capitol for a “March for Justice.”

Here is what you need to know about what parts of the law are on hold, which provisions will take effect Friday and which parts will become law later:

On hold:

  • A provision that would empower police to investigate the immigration status of suspects who they believe have committed state or federal crimes and who cannot produce identification, such as a driver’s license, or provide other information that could help police identify them. That provision would also authorize police to arrest illegal immigrants and take them to jail.
  • A part of the law that would punish people who — while committing another offense — knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants or encourage them to come here. First-time offenders would face up to 12 months in prison and fines as high as $1,000.

Taking effect Friday:

  • 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.
  • A seven-member Immigration Enforcement Review Board will be established to investigate complaints about local and state government officials not enforcing state laws related to immigration. Spokesmen for Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker David Ralston said this week that their offices were working on appointing people to this panel.
  • Government officials who violate state laws requiring cities, counties and state government agencies to use the federal E-Verify work authorization program could face fines 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 that the federal government’s guest-worker program is too burdensome and expensive.

Taking effect Jan. 1:

  • State and local government agencies must start requiring people who apply 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’s 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 E-Verify 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 Jan. 1. Businesses with 100 or more employees but fewer than 500 must start complying with this provision July 1, 2012. This requirement will apply to businesses with between 11 and 99 employees starting July 1, 2013. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees are exempt.
June 30, 2011

6/29 – Huffington Post – Pablo Alvarado: Georgia Still on My Mind

Pablo Alvarado: Georgia Still on My Mind.


Pablo Alvarado


Georgia Still on My Mind

Posted: 06/29/11 02:38 PM ET

During the hearing on Georgia’s HB 87, a replication of Arizona’s notorious SB 1070, Judge Thomas Thrash posed a hypothetical scenario: an 18-year-old man is driving his mother to church. He is a citizen, while his mother is not. Under HB 87, would the son be a criminal? The question is not a theoretical matter for thousands of families in Georgia, and millions nationwide. It is reality.

After Judge Thrash issued a preliminary injunction blocking portions of Georgia’s HB 87 yesterday, many are wondering what it means and what comes next. The injunction, which stops sections of Georgia’s racist anti-immigration law, forestalls the further criminalization of immigrant families on one hand while advancing it with the parts that went unblocked on the other.

Beyond the injunction, there is an emerging domestic human rights crisis caused by the country’s unjust immigration laws. The politics of exclusion behind the bill have led to dehumanizing policies, but immigrants in Georgia are organizing to defend themselves with potential benefits for us all. To move forward, we must expand our circle of compassion.

While the legal battles in Arizona, Indiana, Utah, and now Georgia have been heroic and have mitigated the harm of these states’ hate bills, the fact that the emergency court rulings only offer us partial protections is a warning of clear and present danger for people of color. Our rights are being eroded, and our lives have worsened as a result of the poisonous normalization of these repugnant proposals.

In Georgia, just like in Arizona, parts of the anti-immigrant proposals have survived judicial scrutiny, with impacts yet unknown. These Arizona-style bills may be acting as trojan horses. Behind the clearly unconstitutional components set to be struck down are new laws that advance the targeting of immigrants and further imperil civil rights in ways that threaten us all.

With such seething racial animus behind nativist laws and a sophisticated media engine driving anti-immigrant hysteria, it is natural to view the temporary defeat of 1070 copycats as partial victories. When a community is so suffocated by hate and so thoroughly under siege, any respite will feel like an advance.

In Georgia, some referred to the partial injunction of HB 87 as “a breath of fresh air.” Yet the unenjoined sections of the bill set to move forward July 1 and onward are anticipated to be devastating. In a similar moment in Arizona last year, we recalled the words of Malcolm X, “You don’t stab me with a six-inch knife, pull it out three inches, and call that progress.” While some egregious sections of HB 87 were stopped, those moving forward include penalties of up to 15 years prison and $250,000 in fines for use of false work papers, mandatory worksite inspections, desktop raids, among other things. Twenty-one of 23 sections will be implemented. True progress than will be found through the organizing in the neighborhoods by and among those affected.

Perhaps some citizens can temporarily breathe easier knowing they are less likely to be targeted than their undocumented neighbors. However, for hardworking people who have no entry point into the workforce, doing what they must to earn their daily bread may now be treated as a more heinous crime than those charged with actual violence. Next month for example, Jose Antonio Vargas, the reporter who recently came out as undocumented would face the possibility of 15 years in prison for his Pulitzer prize-winning work if done in Georgia.

The 18-year-old in the Judge’s hypothetical may be temporarily taken out of the crosshairs in one sense, but he is not likely to catch his breath. Like the rest of his family, he is still under attack.

As Adelina Nicholls of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR) explained, “our communities still face discrimination from police empowered by the Obama administration.” The federal government has already created programs that act as a conduit for prejudiced policing in places like Gwinnett and Cobb counties. There, like other places where Secure Communities has recently been activated, the likelihood of status checks, pretextual arrests, and rights violations remain unabated, with or without HB 87.

The battle in Georgia has served to crystallize the contradiction we all live with, in a country that accepts our labor but denies our humanity. We are moving forward, but because of fending off parts of the most recent attack. HB 87 is a symptom of a far bigger disease that has infected our politics and resulted in policies of dehumanization. We are moving forward; the passage of HB 87 has become the impetus for new bottom-up organizing. In doing so, we expand our circle of compassion to include all, especially our undocumented brothers and sisters.

Expanding our circle of compassion means accepting this hard truth: there is no partial solution to a human rights crisis. We cannot celebrate the defense of civil rights for some at the expense of the human rights for all. Progress requires listening to, learning from, and accepting the voices of this generation’s immigrant families. In Georgia, Arizona, and elsewhere, excluded immigrants, or ‘Americans in Waiting,’ are laboring for inclusion. When they prevail, and they will prevail, we will all win.

June 29, 2011

6/28 – GPB – Immigrants Plan Work Stoppage

Immigrants Plan Work Stoppage.

Tue., June 28, 2011 4:10pm (EDT)

By Jeanne Bonner
Updated: 1 day ago


Latino groups are calling on immigrants in Georgia to skip work on Friday and refrain from buying anything. That’s the day the state’s new immigration law, known as House Bill 87, goes into effect.

The Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights organized the effort before a federal judge blocked parts of the law on Monday.

The state said it would appeal, so organizers still plan to hold the Friday acts of protest and a march on Saturday.

But some business leaders who also oppose the law say the boycott won’t help anyone.

Karen Bremer is with the Georgia Restaurant Association.

“There are some business people who plan to walk on Saturday to show solidarity with their employees and with the people who are affected by HB 87,” Bremer said. “But the general consensus is that by having a work stoppage, it really hurts the individuals that the business community has been trying to help.”

Judge Thomas Thrash blocked parts of the law that would allow the police to check the immigration status of some criminal suspects, and would penalize people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants.

Attorney Charles Kuck, who represents some of the plaintiffs, said in simplest terms, the judge ruled that states cannot make immigration policy.

“He relied on two Supreme Court cases, one from 1940 and one a little bit more recent that said basically it is the purview of the federal government and Congress to enact and enforce immigration-related laws. Period,” Kuck said in an interview.

In his 45-page ruling, Judge Thrash said an illegal immigrant’s “mere presence” in the U.S. is not a federal crime in and of itself.

A spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal expressed disappointment that the court blocked parts of the law, and said this is not the last word on the issue.

“Curiously, the court writes ‘all illegal aliens will leave Georgia’ if the law is enforced, as if it is appalled at the thought of people attaining visas before coming to our nation,” said Brian Robinson, the governor’s deputy chief of staff for communications, in a statement. “The federal court’s ruling, however, will crystallize for Georgians and other Americans our underlying problem: Beyond refusing to help with our state’s illegal immigration problem, the federal government is determined to be an obstacle. The state of Georgia narrowly tailored its immigration law to conform with existing federal law and court rulings. Georgians can rest assured that this battle doesn’t end here; we will appeal this decision.”

It’s unclear how successful the boycott will be. But farmers in South Georgia have been reporting a labor shortage since Gov. Nathan Deal signed the immigration law in May. Some have told the state department of agriculture that they’ve had to leave crops to rot in the fields because they did not have enough manpower to harvest.

June 29, 2011

6/28 – – Georgians react to judge’s decision to halt parts of anti-illegal immigration law |

Georgians react to judge’s decision to halt parts of anti-illegal immigration law  |

Georgia Politics 11:46 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

South Georgia’s Ronald Barksdale doubts a federal judge’s decision to halt parts of Georgia’s tough new immigration enforcement law will help his farm. It has suffered $250,000 in losses he said are tied to the new law.

John Litland, a supporter of the law from Marietta, predicts the law will win on appeal. He thinks the measure will discourage illegal immigrants from coming to Georgia and taking jobs from U.S. citizens.

In Doraville, illegal immigrant Fidel Hernandez breathed a sigh of relief.

These three men reflect the mix of expectations, hopes and fears Georgians expressed after U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash issued his decision Monday. It’s too early to tell what the precise impact of his ruling will be. But both sides in the debate over illegal immigration in Georgia are making predictions.

On one side, opponents of the law hope Thrash’s decision will diminish its impact on families, farmers and others. The American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigration Law Center and other civil and immigrant rights groups are seeking to block the law in court, arguing it is unconstitutional and would violate civil rights.

Supporters of the measure say it will help prevent illegal immigrants from straining the state’s taxpayer-funded resources, including public schools, jails and hospitals. They believe the law will still be effective despite the judge’s ruling. They point out the judge left most of the law intact, including a provision that requires many businesses to use the federal E-Verify program to ensure their new hires are eligible to work in the United States.

That provision will be phased in starting next year. But several parts of the law are scheduled to start taking effect on Friday, including a provision that would punish people who use fake identification to get a job in Georgia.

The Republican author of the law – state Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City — said the message has been sent that illegal immigrants are not welcome in Georgia.

“When they choose a state to come to, we don’t want them to choose Georgia,” he said. “We believe that has largely been accomplished.”

In a 45-page decision, Thrash temporarily put on hold the two most controversial parts of the law pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. Those two provisions were also scheduled to take effect Friday. One would authorize police to question certain suspects about their immigration status and arrest illegal immigrants and take them to jail. The other would punish people who – while committing another crime – knowingly harbor or transport illegal immigrants or encourage them to come here.

Atlanta-area immigrants reacted quickly to Thrash’s ruling with a mixture of wariness and relief . Hernandez, for example, said he instantly felt better after his wife called him with the news of the court decision. He said he and his wife and four children are staying put in their Doraville apartment, at least for now.

Before the judge’s ruling, Hernandez was considering moving his family to Los Angeles or Las Vegas, where he has relatives. He crossed the Mexican border illegally more than 20 years ago. His wife is here illegally. So is his 17-year-old son. A handyman, Hernandez drives to work without a license. He was fearful he and his wife could be arrested and deported in connection with new the law.

“I was having a lot of stress,” Hernandez said. “With that [judge’s decision] I’m OK now. I feel a lot better… I don’t think I am going to move now.”

Still, Hernandez said he will keep a close eye on any attempts to appeal the judge’s decision.

Jose “Panda” Carias said he heard similar sentiments expressed on the morning radio show he hosted Tuesday morning on WPOL 610 AM, a Spanish hit music station that broadcasts across the Atlanta area. More than 150 people called his Lawrenceville-based station in the space of one hour concerning the judge’s decision, he said. Some said they were scrapping their plans to flee Georgia because of Thrash’s ruling, Carias said.

“It was really emotional,” he said of the callers. “They felt if the law was passed their families would be separated.”

In South Georgia, farmers fear that even with the court decision they will not have enough workers to harvest their crops. Some have complained the new law is scaring away the migrant Hispanic farm workers they depend on, putting hundreds of millions of dollars in fruit and vegetable crops at risk.

Barksdale said he has already lost $250,000 in crops that could not be picked in time. He usually has 40 workers, but most days he has been averaging less than a dozen. He grows cucumbers, pickles and cabbage on fields in Worth and Tift counties. Going forward, he said, he will probably stick to crops that can be harvested mechanically, such as peanuts and cotton.

Barksdale believes Georgia’s reputation regarding not wanting illegal immigrants has been set for years to come. The injunction won’t do much to change that, he said.

“It’s too little too late,” he said.

Philip Grimes, a farmer in Tifton, said the judge’s decision “ain’t changed nothing. People are leaving. They don’t want to be in Georgia.” Grimes said he is now harvesting cantaloupes but might switch to growing more products that can be harvested mechanically, such as cotton, corn and peanuts.

He had about half the workers he needed when the season started this year, but now has come up to speed. He said he usually grows broccoli in the fall but will wait until August to decide whether to even plant it this year.

Jesus Guerrero is in charge of finding people to harvest crops on three farms in Coffee and Irwin counties. He said he spoke this week to 30 workers who were planning to leave for Michigan. He told them about the judge’s decision.

“They just thanked God. They were glad and happy,” he said. “Some might stay, especially the ones who are situated here. They have children in the schools.”

Supporters of the law are predicting it will be a success, one way or the other.

“I believe they (illegal immigrants) will go to sanctuary states, and we will open up a lot of job opportunities for Americans,” said Litland, a member of the Dustin Inman Society, which advocates for the enforcement of immigration and employment laws. “The more we can get these cheaper workers out of the state, the more Americans can get back to work.”

Even if the judge’s decision is not overturned on appeal, the law will still have a huge effect, he said.

“I still think it will be a tremendous help,” Litland said. “But not the same impact.”

Mundo Hispanico staff writer Mario Guevara contributed to this report.

June 29, 2011

6/29 – – Immigration bill protesters granted signature bonds |

Immigration bill protesters granted signature bonds  |

Metro Atlanta / State News 10:19 a.m. Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Three protesters who were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct during an immigration rally at the State Capitol appeared in court Wednesday morning. All three were granted signature bonds; their attorney, Parage Shah, said he expected them to be released Wednesday afternoon. Three other protesters were released into the custody of their parents because they are juveniles

Capitol State Police arrested Leidy Solis for blocking the intersection of Washington Street and Martin Luther King Jr. in front of Georgia State Capitol Tuesday, June 28, 2011. Solis came to the United States when she was 2, and she is undocumented.

Vino Wong, Capitol State Police arrested Leidy Solis for blocking the intersection of Washington Street and Martin Luther King Jr. in front of Georgia State Capitol Tuesday, June 28, 2011. Solis came to the United States when she was 2, and she is undocumented.

Undocumented youth risk arrest and even deportation as protest at the corner of Washington Street and Martin Luther King Jr. in front of  the Georgia State Capitol Tuesday, June 28, 2011. All six were led away in handcuffs by Capitol police not long after blocking the busy intersection.  Vino Wong

Vino Wong, Undocumented youth risk arrest and even deportation as protest at the corner of Washington Street and Martin Luther King Jr. in front of the Georgia State Capitol Tuesday, June 28, 2011. All six were led away in handcuffs by Capitol police not long after blocking the busy intersection. Vino Wong

Dulce Guerrero chants "undocumented, unafraid"  at the state Capitol on Tuesday, June 28, 2011.

Vino Wong, Dulce Guerrero chants “undocumented, unafraid” at the state Capitol on Tuesday, June 28, 2011.

About 200 protesters , mostly students, rallied at the Capitol Tuesday against House bill 87, the  immigration  legislation that goes into effect Friday.

Georgia State Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright said the protesters were asked to move from the intersection several times before they were arrested.

Dulce Guerrero of Atlanta, who spoke to WSB Radio’s Pete Combs before she was detained by police, said she was ready to take a stand against the bill.

“I know they’re going to arrest me and I’m here today for them to arrest me,” she said. “I could risk deportation. I could be sent back to a country I don’t know, but I’m here and I’m willing to risk it all. I’m here to show the governor and my community that I’m not going to stay quiet.”

In addition to Guerrero, two other adults and three juveniles were arrested. The adults were Jessica Vasquez, 18, of Atlanta and Felipe Baeza, 24, of New York.

June 28, 2011

6/28 – NPR – More Illegal Immigrants Go Public In Wake of Vargas : NPR

More Illegal Immigrants Go Public In Wake of Vargas : NPR.


June 28, 2011

Citizenship for illegal immigrants has been a cause championed mostly by politicians and other advocates facing no personal threat of deportation.

Jorge Lopez, 16, led a protest of high school students on May 25 opposing Georgia's new law cracking down on illegal immigration.

David Goldman/APJorge Lopez, 16, led a protest of high school students on May 25 opposing Georgia’s new law cracking down on illegal immigration.

But a prominent journalist’s recent disclosure that he’s an illegal resident has highlighted a growing number of activists “coming out” as illegal, effectively sending a pointed message to authorities: Come and get me.

“It was so empowering to read his story and see just how honest he is,” North Carolina activist Viridiana Martinez says of reporter Jose Antonio Vargas. “The biggest obstacle we have is fear. So, coming out is a declaration that I am dropping the fear. I am taking my struggle in my own hands.”

Last week, Vargas joined that struggle by disclosing publicly that he had broken numerous laws for more than a decade to conceal his citizenship status. Vargas said he came out to take an activist role on immigration reform after Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act in December.

The bill (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) has been reintroduced in the Senate and was the subject of a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. It would establish a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants younger than 36 who arrived in the United States as children, have lived here for five years or more, and are attending college or serving in the military. More than 800,000 of the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants in the nation could be eligible.

Martinez, 24, who disclosed her illegal status at a rally last year, is one of thousands of young adults and teens who have organized nationwide based on a new strategy that places themselves on the front lines in the debate over immigration reform. Once an honors student whose college dreams ended when she couldn’t produce a valid visa, Martinez has become a full-time activist.

This so-called DREAMers movement has gained wide attention for engaging a new generation of young immigrants who have grown up in America and would have been granted legal status under the legislation. Despite the bill’s failure, organizers say thousands of young people continue to “come out,” fueling an expansion of grass-roots efforts in multiple cities and making legislative pushes on the state level.

The Chicago-based Immigration Youth Justice League, one of the nation’s earliest and most active DREAMer groups, was heavily involved in the successful passage last week of the Illinois DREAM Act, which establishes a scholarship fund and other tools to help children of illegal immigrants attend college. And in North Carolina, an effort to require parents to disclose their children’s status to school officials recently failed in part because of the work of the North Carolina Dream Team, co-founded by Martinez.

“The operative word is galvanize. … It takes guts. When they have something to lose, they get public sympathy,” says Texas A&M University history professor Terry H. Anderson, author of the 1995 book The Movement and The Sixties: Protest in America from Greensboro to Wounded Knee.

A Gallup survey conducted earlier this month showed 59 percent of Americans view legal immigration positively, and 37 percent of them oppose it. The poll found that support for increased immigration has risen by 4 percent since 2009, while support for an immigration crackdown has decreased by 7 percent.

The DREAMers’ frontal approach marks a departure from an older generation of illegal immigrants who have hidden from public view to avoid detection, while silently supporting the cause.

“Here is a generation of young people who have grown up, assimilated, become American in every way but their immigration status who were being told not to speak up, not to take a stand against this problem that directly affects them,” says Domenic Powell, a spokesman for the North Carolina Dream Team.

The new push for disclosure makes sense for a generation raised in an era of another kind of “coming out.”

DREAMers borrowed the term from the gay-rights movement, whose members have used the strategy to draw support for their own cause. DREAMers say many of their members — including about half of the Chicago organization — are also gay, like Vargas himself.

Anderson, who fought in the Vietnam War and later protested it, compares the DREAMers to activists of the 1960s and 1970s whose personal sacrifices gained public support for their causes, such as civil rights, an end to the Vietnam War, and later gay rights. Each movement was driven by young activists who had bucked the reticence of an older group.

“There are lots of similarities. The DREAMers feel that they are victims. They have a grievance. A 5-year-old boy is brought into the United States and when he gets older, they want to deport him. He doesn’t feel that America is living up to its commitment. It’s the same thing with African-Americans or women facing discrimination,” Anderson says.

Young DREAMers including Viridiana Martinez (far right) and  David Ramirez (second from right) stand outside the Atlanta Detention Center after they were arrested for publicly displaying their illegal status in Atlanta on April 7.

Courtsey of the Immigrant Youth Justice LeagueYoung DREAMers including Viridiana Martinez (far right) and David Ramirez (second from right) stand outside the Atlanta Detention Center after they were arrested for publicly displaying their illegal status in Atlanta on April 7.

Vargas’ disclosure raised the specter that he would be targeted for deportation. A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to directly address whether the agency might take such action.

But ICE’s own recently stated positions indicate that he is most likely safe for now. ICE last week issued a memorandum granting its agents “prosecutorial discretion” to extend leniency to DREAM Act-eligible people and others while cracking down on those who pose “a clear risk to national security.” Leniency would take the form of deferred deportation, usually for up to 12 months, at which time individuals could request an extension and potentially reapply every year.

On Monday, House Judiciary Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) criticized the ICE memo as an attempt to circumvent immigration reform and “legalize millions of illegal immigrants.” He said he plans to introduce a bill that would prevent ICE from selective enforcement.

I think we got special treatment. Trying to deport us probably would have caused too much of an uproar.

The new ICE approach also could explain why coming out hasn’t made the DREAMers themselves targets for deportation.

In April, authorities in Atlanta had ample opportunity but took no such action after arresting Martinez and six others who staged a sit-in to protest a tough new immigration enforcement law passed by the Georgia Legislature.

“I think we got special treatment. Trying to deport us probably would have caused too much of an uproar,” says David Ramirez, of Chicago, who was among those arrested in Atlanta. “It was calling the government’s bluff, I guess.”

Despite the reintroduction of the DREAM Act, its passage doesn’t appear likely. It would almost certainly die on arrival in the House, where the Republican leadership has vowed to oppose any measure that provides a path to legal status for existing residents.

Senate Democrats nonetheless are pressing their case. They brought in big names to testify Tuesday for passage of the bill — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. (Vargas also attended the hearing.)

Their testimony is part of Democrats’ effort to make immigration a 2012 campaign issue intended to put Republicans on the defensive with Latino voters. It’s also part of the Obama administration’s response to criticism from Latinos that the president has courted them but failed to deliver any results.

Duncan, a Chicago native, earlier this week lent strong support to the Illinois DREAM Act. Also this week, several other members of the Obama administration are expected to address immigration at the annual meeting of the League of United Latin American Citizens in Cincinnati. Among them are Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Labor Security Hilda Solis, who is Hispanic, both of whom are scheduled to speak Thursday.

Immigration advocates also have criticized Obama for increasing the pace of deportations beyond that of the Bush administration. Under the Obama administration, the number of deportations has increased to an average of about 341,000 per fiscal year, compared with an average of 251,000 under the Bush administration. Since Obama took office, an estimated 700,000 people had been deported by the end of the fiscal year ended September 2010, according to the latest figures published by the Department of Homeland Security.

The number of individuals deported by the Obama administration is projected to reach 1 million by September. Napolitano, whose department oversees ICE, has said efforts are focused on removing on criminals, but she has acknowledged that some DREAM Act-eligible individuals have been ensnared.

June 28, 2011

6/28 – The Dream is Coming – Undocument​ed Youth Respond to Decision on HB87 Risking Arrest at Georgia State Capitol –

For Immediate Release
Contact: Georgina Perez at 678-389-1226

Undocumented Youth Respond to Decision on HB87 Risking Arrest at Georgia State Capitol

Undocumented youth respond to the decision to partially stop HB87, ‘it isn’t enough’

Atlanta, Georgia– Today, June 28th, at 2:00pm, in an effort to raise awareness for the plight of undocumented people in their communities, six undocumented youth will risk arrest and even deportation coming out at the Georgia State Capitol. The undocumented youth will be joined by allies in demanding a complete halt to HB87 and similar local policies which continue to create fear within the immigrant communities.Jessica Vasquez, 18 year old soon to be Pebblebrook high school student doesn’t believe anything has changed with the Judge’s ruling in the HB87 lawsuit: “Parts of HB87 may have been put on hold however that does not mean that local policies have been put on hold.  Every day I see people I know being stopped at checkpoints and facing deportation. As far as I am concerned HB87 policies have been in place for a while and nothing has changed with that.  I am here fighting because I believe my community needs to stop being afraid. I am here because these politicians and so called leaders need to realize we are waking up and will no longer tolerate their hatred.”According to the Migrant Policy Institute over 74,000 undocumented youth reside in the state of Georgia.  In October of 2010 the Board of Regents made a decision barring undocumented youth from attending Georgia’s top 5 colleges and universities.  The decision made it such that, despite top grades, many youth would not be allowed to attend school, similar to the policies put in place during previous generations baring African Americans from school attendance.

“It seems we are reliving history all over again, just different people but same racist laws being put into place.  If it was wrong then it is wrong now.  I have the grades but I am being told I should remain uneducated.  I am an American having lived here since I was 2.” Leeidy Solis, 16, soon to be high school senior, she went on to say: “Even if it means facing deportation we are prepared to follow in the footsteps of those before us to fight to change these laws.”

Who:    Undocumented youth, Rev.  Tim MacDonald and local civil rights leaders
What:   Response to HB87 and coming out rally, students declare themselves “Undocumented and Unafraid” – Risking arrest and even deportation.
When/where:  Tuesday June 28th, Inside the Georgia State Capitol at 1:45pm.The youth will not be alone, they will be joined by local politicians and members of the faith community; Rev. Timothy McDonald, Senior Pastor of the First Iconium Baptist Church joins the youth in solidarity: “We affirm that immigration is the Civil Rights Issue for the 21st Century.  We will not re-segregate our colleges and university.  America must continue its forward progress towards affirming the rights of all People.”
As The Dream is Coming project, we are compelled by our frustration and the fierce urgency of our dreams to act as agents of our destinies and be the catalysts for a future in which we are empowered, mobilized, and living with the dignity we deserve.  We are a group of undocumented youth who have worked for years on a path to legalization. We are at a point in our movement where radical action has become necessary for ourselves and our communities.
June 27, 2011

6/27 – PBS Newshour – News Wrap: Judge Blocks Parts of Georgia’s Illegal Immigration Law | PBS NewsHour | June 27, 2011 | PBS

News Wrap: Judge Blocks Parts of Georgia’s Illegal Immigration Law | PBS NewsHour | June 27, 2011 | PBS.

KWAME HOLMAN: A federal judge in Atlanta has blocked parts of Georgia’s crackdown on illegal immigration from taking effect. A new state law was to take effect on July 1. But the judge today issued a stay against enforcing penalties on those who harbor the undocumented. The judge also set aside a provision authorizing police to check immigration status until a legal challenge is resolved.

News Wrap: Parts of Ga. Immigration Law Blocked

News Wrap: Parts of Ga. Immigration Law Blocked

In other news Monday, a federal judge in Atlanta blocked parts of Georgia’s crackdown on illegal immigration from taking effect. The judge issued a stay against enforcing penalties against harboring undocumented people.

June 27, 2011

6/27 – FOX 5 (Video) – Federal Judge Blocks Parts of Ga. Immigration Law

Federal Judge Blocks Parts of Ga. Immigration Law.

Updated: Monday, 27 Jun 2011, 7:30 PM EDT
Published : Monday, 27 Jun 2011, 2:38 PM EDT

Video by GEORGE FRANCO/myfoxatlanta

ATLANTA, Ga. – A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked parts of Georgia’s strict new law targeting illegal immigration from taking effect, including a provision that authorizes police to check the immigration status of suspects without proper identification and to detain illegal immigrants.

Georgia’s became the latest in a string of state laws that have been at least temporarily stopped by legal challenges. All or parts of similar laws in Arizona, Utah and Indiana also have been blocked by federal judges.

Judge Thomas Thrash also granted a request from civil liberties groups to block a part of Georgia’s law that penalizes people who knowingly and willingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants while committing another crime.

“The defendants wildly exaggerate the scope of the federal crime of harboring under (the law) when they claim that the Plaintiffs are violating federal immigration law by giving rides to their friends and neighbors who are illegal aliens,” he said.

The judge was especially critical of that provision, blasting the state’s assertion that federal immigration enforcement is “passive.” Thrash noted that federal immigration officers remove more than 900 foreign citizens from the country on an average day.

He also wrote that the state measure would overstep the enforcement boundaries established by federal law. Thrash noted that there are thousands of illegal immigrants in Georgia because of the “insatiable demand in decades gone by for cheap labor” in the agriculture and construction industries. But he said the federal government gives priority to prosecuting and removing illegal immigrants who have committed crimes.

The civil liberties groups had sued to have those and other provisions blocked before they took effect Friday, though Thrash did toss parts of that lawsuit. The groups had argued that the law allows unreasonable seizures; blocks a constitutional right to travel; and restricts access to government services on the basis of national origin. The judge dismissed those claims, along with allegations the measure violates property rights and the state constitution.

Nonetheless, the groups hailed the ruling.

“This is a victory that matches the trend nationally. It should send a really strong signal to other states considering such laws,” said Karen Tumlin, a lawyer for the National Immigration Law Center.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said in a statement his office plans to appeal the court’s ruling. He said he was pleased that parts of the lawsuit were dismissed.

The law’s main sponsor, Republican state Rep. Matt Ramsey, called the judge’s ruling a temporary setback.

The judge also was concerned about the wider implications of the law on trade and diplomatic relations, which were laid out by Mexican officials in court documents.

“The conflict is not a purely speculative and indirect impact on immigration. It is direct and immediate,” he wrote.

The federal judge also accused the state of “gross hypocrisy” in its argument that Georgia’s crackdown would prevent the exploitation of illegal immigrants.

“The apparent legislative intent is to create such a climate of hostility, fear, mistrust and insecurity that all illegal aliens will leave Georgia,” he said.

“Curiously, the court writes `all illegal aliens will leave Georgia’ if the law is enforced, as if it is appalled at the thought of people attaining visas before coming to our nation,” said Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.

Similar laws elsewhere have met similar fates. A federal judge has blocked the most controversial parts of the law in Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer has said she plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In Utah, a federal judge temporarily blocked that state’s law last month. A hearing is set for mid-July to determine if the law can go into effect. And on Friday, a federal judge blocked parts of Indiana’s law.

On Friday, many parts of the law will take effect. Among them is one that makes it a felony with hefty penalties to use false information or documentation when applying for a job. Another creates an immigration review board to investigate complaints about government officials not complying with state laws related to illegal immigration.

Starting Jan. 1, businesses with 500 or more employees will have to use a federal database to check the immigration status of new hires, a requirement that will be phased in for all businesses with more than 10 employees by July 2013. Also starting Jan. 1, applicants for public benefits will have to provide at least one state or federally issued “secure and verifiable” document.

June 27, 2011

6/27 – – Judge: Ga. seeks ‘climate of hostility, fear, mistrust, insecurity’ | Jay Bookman

Judge: Ga. seeks ‘climate of hostility, fear, mistrust, insecurity’ | Jay Bookman.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash has blocked enforcement of the most aggressive law enforcement provisions of Georgia’s new illegal immigration law, ruling that they interfere with federal responsibilities to enforce immigration law.

“The [state’s} claim that the new criminal statutes will prevent exploitation of illegal aliens is gross hypocrisy,” Thrash concluded. “The apparent legislative intent is to create such a climate of hostility, fear, mistrust and insecurity that all illegal aliens will leave Georgia.”

That’s pretty much on the nose. And while the judge didn’t offer a conclusion about whether such a goal was good or bad, he did rule that such steps, if they are taken, must be taken by the federal government, not by the states. As a result, “state and local law enforcement officers and officials have no authorization to arrest, detain or prosecute anyone based upon Sections 7 and 8 of HB 87 while this injunction remains in effect.”

However, 21 other sections of the law will go into effect July 1.

In a footnote in his ruling, Thrash pointed out an affidavit filed by Lewis Smith, a 23-year veteran of law enforcement in Georgia and the police chief of the small town of Uvalda. According to Thrash, Smith’s statement “outlines the problems that rural, small town Georgia law enforcement officers will have in trying to enforce Section 8.”

Smith’s statement does that, and a lot more.

“This is going to be devastating to my community and to many other areas of rural Georgia,” the chief’s affidavit reads. “I believe this law will open the door to racial profiling if it is implemented. There are a lot of good police officers, but there are some bad ones out there too, and if the bad ones don’t like Hispanics, for whatever reason, they will have the ability to try to verify that person’s immigration status. I believe that officers in many small towns will rely on physical appearance or way of talking (accent) to determine whether to stop someone and attempt to verify the person’s immigration status.”

Smith also explained the burden that enforcing HB 87 would place on him and other law enforcement officers. After talking with fellow officers, he said, he has come to the conclusion that “police officers in many towns will feel compelled to always exercise their authority to ask about immigration status, making many communities less safe and stretching already thin police forces to their limit.”

In Smith’s case, he is the lone officer in Uvalda, a town of 600 in southeast Georgia. The closest jail is 40 miles away in Soperton, which means that transporting a suspected illegal immigrant to jail, booking the person and returning home would pull Smith off patrol for at least two hours and 15 minutes.

“Because Uvalda is such a small town, everyone in town knows when I’ve left town, and the criminal element often takes advantage of this time to commit crimes,” he told the court.

And about that criminal element?

“The criminal element in Uvalda does not include the population HB 87 targets. In Uvalda, even though we are a small town, we have a big prescription drug problem resulting in break-ins, burglaries and even suicides.” The Hispanics in his town, on the other hand, “are law-abiding people. They have family and kids.”

“In small towns like Uvalda,” Smith told the court, “life is more personal. As chief, I get to know people for who they are, rather than just a statistic or a word such as ‘illegal.’ The immigrants in my community have children, and they just need a chance, just like everyone else does.”

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