Georgia Politics 2:55 p.m. Monday, June 20, 2011
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A federal judge on Monday asked several tough questions about the potential fallout from Georgia’s new anti-illegal immigration law but said he would rule later on whether it should be halted.
Manuel Bojorquez, WSB-TV Protesters held signs and marched outside the courthouse during the hearing on the immigration law.
Walter Cumming, special U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash focued on practical aspects of Georgia’s new anti-illegal immigrant law in a Monday hearing, suggesting it would not be enforced consistently across the state and that local authorities could choose who to target.
Many of the legal arguments for and against the law revolve around whether it is constitutional. But during a more than hour-long hearing in Atlanta Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash repeatedly focused on the law’s practicality. He questioned its purpose, suggested it would not be enforced consistently across the state and said local authorities could pick and choose who to target with it.
Thrash, who was nominated to the court by President Bill Clinton, offered one hypothetical example in which local authorities could target immigrants to get them out their public schools but not touch the immigrant cook who works at the popular Mexican restaurant in town. The judge also questioned whether teenage U.S. citizens should be prosecuted for driving their illegal immigrant parents to the grocery store.
Based on Thrash’s line of questioning, the Republican author of the law said Monday he wouldn’t be surprised if Thrash grants opponents of the law a preliminary injunction and halts the measure. But Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City said he was confident the state would appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta and win under that scenario.
“We believe in the end that the law — on its merits — is going to be found constitutional – all provisions of the law,” Ramsey said.
The American Civil Liberties Union and several other civil and immigrant rights groups asked the judge Monday to put the law on hold, pending the outcome of a lawsuit they have filed to challenge its constitutionality.
Senior Assistant State Attorney General Devon Orland said the law is aimed at protecting Georgia’s taxpayer-funded resources. She told the judge that illegal immigrants are burdening the state’s hospitals and jails.