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

New Georgia law targeting illegal immigration takes effect Friday  | ajc.com.

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.
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