Archive for July, 2011

July 31, 2011

7/29 – Scientific American – What Causes Prejudice against Immigrants, and How Can It Be Tamed?: Scientific American

What Causes Prejudice against Immigrants, and How Can It Be Tamed?: Scientific American.

What Causes Prejudice against Immigrants, and How Can It Be Tamed?

Hostility toward others can explode into senseless violence. Reciprocal relationships and trust are keys to preventing such tragedies

Anders Behring Breivik Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the bombing in Oslo and the shooting on Utoya Island in Norway, the spotlight has focused on confessed perpetrator Anders Behring Breivik. What drove the Norwegian citizen with extremist right-wing views to these mass killings? Although one of the terrorist’s driving motives was anti-immigrant sentiment, he also killed fellow Norwegians belonging to his own ethnic group.

Why do human beings develop this kind of prejudice, and what makes it sometimes erupt into violence? Scientific American spoke with Steven Neuberg, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University in Tempe, about the psychology of anti-immigrant prejudice.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

How would you define prejudice in psychological terms?
Prejudice is traditionally defined in social psychology as a negative feeling towards a particular group and its members. It turns out, though, that there are different kinds of prejudices and different prejudices towards different groups—and these prejudices have very different emotional components to them. For instance, towards some groups, the prejudice is characterized by disgust, others by anger, yet others by fear.

What underlies prejudice against foreigners?

We’re highly dependent on people in our own groups. In fact, one could argue that our highly ultrasocial, interdependent form of group living may be the most important human adaptation. People tend to be invested in members of their groups, to have ongoing histories of fair exchanges and reciprocal relations, to treat one another reasonably well, to create and follow a set of agreed-upon norms, and thereby build up trust. Outsiders aren’t going to have that same built-up investment in us or our group. Because of this, we tend to believe that people who are foreign to us are more likely to pose certain kinds of threats: We believe they may be more interested in taking our resources, more likely to cheat us in exchanges, to violate our norms and values, to take more than their fair share, and the like. These perceptions of threats are linked to negative emotions such as anger and moral disgust that contribute to anti-immigrant prejudices.

My colleague Mark Schaller at the University of British Columbia has explored an additional threat that people are likely to see in foreigners: People who come from faraway places, who live in somewhat different ecologies, carry different pathogens within their bodies—pathogens that their immune systems have had an opportunity to adapt to but that ours have not. Schaller’s work shows that people perceived as being foreign—perhaps because they look different than us, speak different languages, eat different foods—automatically activate perceptions of disease threat. And groups who are perceived to pose disease threats activate prejudices characterized by physical disgust.

The alleged attacker in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik, had strong anti-immigrant prejudices. What was he feeling?
I can’t tell you exactly what he was thinking, but as I mentioned, foreign groups coming into one’s own society—immigrants—activate perceptions of a wide range of threats and elicit accompanying negative emotions such as anger, disgust and fear, which increases the likelihood of discrimination. If the perceived threats and emotions are strong enough, an individual may believe that he needs to rid his country of those who pose them. Moreover, anger and disgust, together, contribute to feelings of contempt, which we feel towards others we believe to be “less” than us, and can serve to motivate extreme actions.

It’s useful to note a couple of things here. First, because immigrants are perceived to pose multiple kinds of threats, they are likely to be on the receiving end of especially pernicious prejudices and acts of discrimination. Second, such reactions to immigrants are nothing new—and we can look not only to current anti-immigrant sentiments throughout the world, but also to our own history in the U.S. Whether it was Italians or Irish, Poles, Jews, Germans, Chinese or whomever, each of these groups were initially perceived to pose a wide range of threats and consequently evoked powerful prejudices. It was only once people came to see these groups as nonthreatening, usually as they were seen to adopt “American” norms, that they were perceived as Americans.

Given his prejudice against immigrants, why did Breivik target ethnic Norwegians, his own people?
I haven’t read his writings, but I hypothesize he was going after members of his group he saw as responsible for allowing the immigrant threat to exist. I think he saw the liberal politicians and government bureaucracy—whom he perceived as supporting Muslim immigration, cultural diversity and overall tolerance—as betraying the Norwegian people. Indeed, he attacked the liberal political class: The bomb was set off in a government center and the shootings took place at a camp for teenagers being educated in liberal politics. To Breivik, these folks may have been traitors because, to his mind, they were allowing immigrant Muslims to adulterate and contaminate his country. People seen as traitors are universally despised and stigmatized. Given how much humans, as social animals, invest in and depend upon their groups, betrayal of one’s group is seen as one of the worst things one can possibly do. My guess is that Breivik saw the liberal politics of his country as a betrayal of his people, and so he attacked those politics and those engaged in them.

What makes someone like Breivik break and decide to use violence?
It’s normal for people to over-perceive threats; our mind is designed to err in that direction. It’s also normal for people, when confronted with the kinds of threats we’ve been discussing, to experience emotions like anger, disgust and fear. But just because we stereotype groups as posing certain threats, and hold certain prejudices against them, doesn’t mean that we act on these stereotypes and prejudices in extreme ways. It just doesn’t make sense to do so, and the normal mind typically weighs the consequences of engaging in such planned, extreme actions. I suspect that Breivik, and other extremists like him, possess a much lower threshold for perceiving others as threats and perhaps also a much more intense emotional reaction to those perceptions. Moreover, for someone like him, the ability to dive deeply into media that’s like-minded, on the Web or otherwise, and to spend time with like-minded others, may significantly reinforce his sense of threat and his belief that something needs to be done about it. Like most rare, extreme behaviors, it takes a perfect storm—a psychological disposition shaped by genes and environment, in concert with current experiences, circumstances and opportunities.

What are some ways we can combat this kind of prejudice?

Prejudice against new immigrant groups is a natural aspect of our psychology. What’s natural, however, isn’t always good, and we can try to reduce inclinations to those prejudices we find morally problematic. Throughout history, immigrant groups that were once stigmatized very often end up accepted into society, because people come to understand that they aren’t actually posing the threats they were once thought to pose. It helps when immigrant groups begin to adopt the norms and practices of their new homes, and the reduction of threat perceptions is furthered as people begin to form friendships across group lines.

How do friendships help?

Friendship entails interacting interdependently with another—sharing, taking turns, self-disclosing, and the like—and such actions reveal that many of the threats initially expected to exist may not be there after all. With friendship also comes a sense of “we,” a sense that the person is like me and that we share something important and can trust them. Having a close friend that’s a member of another group then provides a model that the group may not actually be as threatening as initially believed. As members of groups come to interact with one another more, the likelihood that they’ll form friendships increases, and this will accelerate the reduction of prejudices.

Can we prevent prejudice from turning into violence?

I’m not very confident that we’ll ever be able to eliminate the kinds of rare acts of violence we saw in Norway. I am, however, somewhat more optimistic that we’ll be able to develop the behavioral and political “technologies” to reduce, or at least to manage, the more typical intergroup prejudices that characterize all of our everyday lives.

July 29, 2011

7/29 – Johnscreek Patch – Will Immigration Status Affect Fulton Students? – Johns Creek, GA Patch

Will Immigration Status Affect Fulton Students? – Johns Creek, GA Patch.

Georgia’s new immigration law may have some students and parents wondering what the coming school year will bring.

On July 1, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 went into effect bringing tough new laws to crack down on the number of illegal immigrants in the state. Georgia currently has the sixth highest rate of illegal immigrant residents in the country. Those determined to have illegal status face deportation.

Though the new law may clarify the immigration issue for some, it could muddy the waters when it comes to school enrollment. According to state law, children between the ages of six and 16 must be enrolled in a public, private or home school setting.

“We have an obligation to the kids, regardless (of their parent’s immigration status), we have an obligation to educate that child,” said Susan Hale, spokesperson for Fulton County Schools.

And that’s where things can get dicey.

The procedure for school enrollment has not changed. To enroll in Fulton County Schools, parents still must prove residency by providing two of the following: bank statements, mortgage or rent statements, current utility bills or connection receipts, homeowner’s insurance registration or a current pay stub. Families in transition can apply to the Fulton County School Board for temporary homeless status consideration.

In addition, a notarized Affidavit of Residence must be submitted upon initial enrollment in the district and again prior to sixth and ninth grades. Parents also have to provide a child’s birth certificate and immunization records.

However, immigration status is not directly addressed. According to federal law, it is illegal for school systems to request information that could reveal the immigration status of a child.

“You can suspect, but there’s no way to prove,” said Hale. She also said that immigration data is not collected by the school system.

School budgets are determined largely by the number of students who attend a particular school. Hale also said that though official enrollment numbers will not be available until after the first month of school, preliminary information supports the projected student enrollment for the coming school year.

Lynn Johnson is the principal at Mimosa Elementary School in Roswell. Of the more than 1,100 students at Mimosa Elementary, 68 percent are hispanic, 89 percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch and 53 percent are classified as English Language Learners.

Johnson said she hasn’t seen a decline in Mimosa’s enrollment for the 2011-12 school year either. She added that school personnel will address any related issues on an as-needed basis.

“It’s a really touchy situation and is very private to families,” Johnson said.

July 28, 2011

7/28 – CL Atlanta – Immigration law a boost to Georgia’s thriving private prison industry | Cover Story | News & Views | Creative Loafing Atlanta

Immigration law a boost to Georgia’s thriving private prison industry | Cover Story | News & Views | Creative Loafing Atlanta.

Georgia’s thriving private prison industry will get a boost from new immigration law

FEDERAL STOCKADE: Stewart Detention Center outside Lumpkin is the largest immigrant detention facility in the U.S.

Courtesy CCA

FEDERAL STOCKADE: Stewart Detention Center outside Lumpkin is the largest immigrant detention facility in the U.S.

Located on the outskirts of the less-than-idyllic hamlet of Lumpkin in rural southwest Georgia, Stewart Detention Center is awash in corporate hubris.

A large, cylindrical water tank at the entrance is splashed with the Corrections Corporation of America’s bright red logo and a “WELCOME” that reads more like a command than a genuine attempt at hospitality. A small sign jutting out of sparse turf on the left side of the road leading to the jail — named CCA Drive, naturally — declares, “You are important …” A second sign right behind it finishes the thought: “… to CCA!”

The sentiment is lost, no doubt, on the majority of the people who come to Stewart, visitors and inmates alike, if for no other reason than many of them don’t speak English.

To lots of people — human and civil rights advocates in particular — there’s something inherently objectionable about the private prison industry. Companies that make money by constructing and operating detention centers essentially turn a profit on high crime rates, harsh penalties for offenders and the ideological crusade against illegal immigrants. It’s a consummate example of what leftist social critic Noam Chomsky calls “profit over people.”

Ask folks on the opposite end of the political spectrum and they’ll likely say private prisons are simply a demonstration of a free market economy at work — the fewer pies our dysfunctional guv’ment has its grubby fingers in, the better.

If the branding effort at Stewart is any indication, CCA, for one, is mighty proud of the work it does.

The medium-security facility, which sits behind twin chain-link fences and enough razor wire to put Alcatraz to shame, is the largest immigrant detention center in the United States. The 260,000-square foot compound hosts a virtually self-replenishing population of around 1,700 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement prisoners — asylum seekers, men fighting to stay in the country, others simply waiting to be deported. And CCA’s making money on every single one.

The private prison industry has seemingly found a fitting bedfellow in the state of Georgia, which enjoys locking people up almost as much as corporations like CCA enjoy collecting on them. One in 13 Georgians are either incarcerated or under some kind of probationary supervision; even as most states have seen their prison populations decrease, Georgia’s has continued to rise. And, with its new penalties for falsifying work visas and provisions for verifying immigration status, HB 87, Georgia’s anti-illegal immigration legislation, will only contribute to this increase.

Because they’re paid per detainee, per day by whichever government entity they’ve contracted with, CCA and other private prison firms need a steady stream of inmates in order to remain profitable. They rely on lawmakers to ensure that demand for their product — prison bed space — remains high. Stringent pieces of criminal justice legislation, many of which are instituted in the name of public safety, are the industry’s lifeblood. In its 2010 annual report, CCA recognized that efforts to the contrary — for instance, Gov. Nathan Deal’s stated commitment to finding alternatives to incarceration — endanger its viability.

“The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected,” the report warned, “by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices, or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws.”

According to the report, even safer streets pose a threat to CCA: “Similarly, reductions in crime rates … could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities.”

The passage of HB 87 was a major victory for the growing segment of the population that believes illegal immigrants are to blame for much of what ails the state, from low employment to high crime. Two of the law’s more controversial provisions — one that would allow police to investigate the citizenship of crime suspects who can’t produce I.D., and another that would impose penalties for people who knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants — have been blocked by the courts while their constitutionality is decided. But, in whatever form it eventually takes, HB 87 has the potential to be a boon for private prison companies. And they aren’t content with being passive beneficiaries.

A 2010 National Public Radio investigation concluded that CCA was very involved in the drafting of Arizona’s illegal immigration law through its affiliation with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing organization that brings corporations and conservative lawmakers together to write model legislation that benefits the private sector.

In Georgia, CCA’s role in the creation and passage of HB 87 — if any role existed — wasn’t nearly as obvious, although the bill bears a distinct resemblance to Arizona’s law and is routinely described as “copycat” legislation. But what is apparent is that the biggest private prison corporations — CCA, the GEO Group and the Cornell Companies, which has since been absorbed by CCA — have spent bundles in campaign contributions and lobbyist dinners wooing Georgia lawmakers. Some Gold Dome observers say that even if the industry’s influence over public policy in Georgia isn’t immediately visible, it’s there.

“There’s so much legislation that’s explainable to conservatives and to the public as being tough on crime, and often the finger of CCA isn’t immediately obvious because it fits within the conservative philosophy,” says Larry Pellegrini, executive director of the Georgia Rural Urban Summit, which lobbies for progressive causes. “But, other pieces of legislation, ones that add penalties to crimes or enhance juvenile crimes so they result in prison time — all of that is something that I see the fingerprint of CCA on.”

The concern, as prison privatization expert Judith Greene put it in her 2007 book Prison Profiteers, is that the “prison contract tail is wagging the correctional policy dog.”

Immigrant advocates P.J. and Amy Edwards — inside their Smyrna Catholic church — worry many Americans have simply written illegals off. - Joeff Davis

  • Joeff Davis
  • Immigrant advocates P.J. and Amy Edwards — inside their Smyrna Catholic church — worry many Americans have simply written illegals off.

It’s a muggy Saturday afternoon and inside Stewart Detention Center’s meager lobby, a handful of men, women and small children — most, if not all, of whom appear to be of Latin American decent — wait patiently to visit their respective loved ones. There’s only one security staffer on duty to locate the requested inmates and then check the visitors in, and the clock is ticking. Visiting hours end at 4 p.m.

P.J. Edwards realizes he’s pushing his luck by showing up at 2:50 to see an inmate. He fills out the three pages of required paperwork with haste and stands eagerly clutching the clipboard as the lone security person seemingly does her best to ignore him. At the stroke of 3, the guard’s internal alarm clock goes off. She glances at the wall clock for confirmation, then turns to Edwards and informs him, matter-of-factly, that he arrived too late: A detainee head count has just commenced, so she won’t be able to locate the inmate he’s visiting. He can either wait until the head count’s been completed and hope to get a few minutes of Plexiglass-partitioned face time, or he can come back another day.

He’s disappointed, but probably not quite as much as the road-weary mother with several children in tow who walks in just minutes after Edwards got the bad news, and will likely get some version of the same speech.

Edwards doesn’t actually have any family members or friends being held at Stewart. He’s part of a faith-based advocacy group that, among other things, visits detainees, particularly those who don’t have family in the area or those whose loved ones steer clear of the facility because of their own tenuous presence in the country. They visit to talk with inmates and pray with them, but they also keep an eye on CCA, to make sure they’re adhering to federal detention standards.

Edwards says there’s little official oversight of the conditions inside Stewart, and, given the current political climate, few on the outside seem terribly concerned about it, either. “I think a lot of Americans have written these people off by saying, ‘They’re illegal, so who cares?'” he says. “That’s a big problem we’ve faced.”

Last year, he and fellow immigrant advocate Anton Flores leased a bungalow down the street from Stewart and opened El Refugio, a hospitality house for families visiting detainees. “The idea,” says Edwards, “is to give people a place to come and rest, to get a free meal. A lot of these families are coming from the Carolinas and aren’t wealthy, so we’re trying to offer a free place for them to stay.”

Not that there’s anywhere else to stay in Lumpkin. The closest motel is something called Kay-Lyn Kourt, eight miles away in Richland.

Since they started El Refugio — and even before, when they were only doing humanitarian visits with inmates — Edwards’ and Flores’ relationship with CCA has been contentious at best. They’ve been forbidden from referring people in the jail’s waiting room to their facility because it constitutes “solicitation,” even though El Refugio is not for profit.

A woman named Tammy who lives in nearby Cusseta has begun apprenticing at El Refugio on weekends. She became interested in the cause after her husband was detained last year. A mason by trade, he had immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico illegally when he was just 13. Even though he’s since married an American woman and fathered a child, he was picked up last June for driving without proper identification and spent 15 days at Stewart until Tammy could post bond. He didn’t have a good experience in CCA’s care.

“He said they’re very cruel,” Tammy explains in her thick Southern drawl. “They mistreat you there. He really doesn’t talk about it because it was a bad experience and he wants to forget it, but he said it’s just very inhuman the way they treat you. They treat you like animals.”

July 28, 2011

7/27 – – How Does Georgia’s Immigration Law HB87 Affect You?

How Does Georgia’s Immigration Law HB87 Affect You?.

July 27th, 2011

Atlanta Immigration Attorney Karen Weinstock Explains How HB87 Affect All Georgians.

Atlanta, GA, July, 2011 –

Georgia new immigration (really it is an anti immigration) law, HB87, took effect on July 1, 2011 and many people ask what it means for them and how it affects them.

“Basically Federal Judge Thrash issued an injunction against the governor of Georgia to stop some of HB87′s provisions from being implemented as unconstitutional after the ACLU and other organizations sued the state. Sections 7 and 8 of HB87 were stopped but the other provisions of HB87 remain intact so far”, reports Georgia immigration lawyer Karen Weinstock.

“Because of the injunction, the police cannot ask for your immigration documents of individuals starting July 1 until and if an appeal by the state of Georgia is reversed by a higher court” said Karen Weinstock, Georgia immigration attorney and the managing attorney of the atlanta immigration law firm Siskind Susser.

“However, that does not apply to 287(g) counties because those counties’ police departments have separate agreements with the federal government to implement immigration laws. Counties that participate in Georgia in the 287(g) program include Cobb and Gwinnett counties around the metro Atlanta area. Police cannot just stop a person on the street without probably cause but if police stops a person for example for a traffic offense such as speeding, if it happens in Cobb, Gwinnett or other 287(g) counties they can ask for the person’s immigration status and move to detain that person if he or she is illegally in the country”, added the Atlanta immigration lawyer.

“Harboring is another crime that was stopped by the federal court. Harboring is generally a federal crime that deals with unlawfully helping people to enter the U.S. (such as coyotes) and people who transport and house people who unlawfully entered during the entry period (such as drivers of trucks that are used to smuggle people)”, explained the Atlanta Immigration attorney Karen Weinstock.

“Under HB87 another crime was created in Georgia which would occur when a person transports or provides shelter to an illegal immigrant while committing another crime. So for example if a U.S. citizen is driving his undocumented immigrant wife while speeding on the street, the harboring provision would have applied. However, the judge stopped section 7 of HB87 from being implemented, police cannot prosecute people for that crime as of July 1, unless an appeals courts reverses the decision”, added the Georgia immigration lawyer.

“HB 87 also created a new offense of “aggravated identity fraud” for anyone who uses false identification for purposes of obtaining employment. For example, if a person uses a fake green card or fake social security number to obtain a job after July 1, 2011, they may be guilty of a felony in Georgia which may impose fines of up to $250,000 and 15 years in prison or both” explained Karen Weinstock, the Georgia immigration attorney. “It is not a felony in Georgia if the person used fake documents to obtain a job prior to July 1, 2011 but continues to work there after July 1, 2011, but because the federal courts did not prohibit this section, it is valid right now unless there is a new challenge”, added the Georgia immigration law firm partner.

“Another important provisions for Georgians and Georgia businesses is the mandatory E-Verify requirements for all companies with over 10 employees. If a business does not comply with the mandatory E-Verify requirement, the state can invalidate its business license. Georgia employers must comply and Georgia employees including U.S. citizens should have all their paperwork in order including name changes in the Social Security office to prevent the E-Verify system from invalidating them”, concluded the Atlanta immigration law attorney.


Media Contact: Karen Weinstock


Kweinstock (at) visalaw (dot) com

July 28, 2011

7/27 – UPI – U.S. rep. arrested at immigration protest –

U.S. rep. arrested at immigration protest –

U.S. rep. arrested at immigration protest

Published: July 27, 2011 at 9:25 AM
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., was arrested during a protest against deportation of illegal immigrants outside of the White House, the congressman’s office confirmed. UPI/Kevin Dietsch. 

WASHINGTON, July 27 (UPI) — Rep. Luis Gutierrez was arrested during a protest against deportation of illegal immigrants outside of the White House, the congressman’s office confirmed.

Gutierrez spokesman Douglas Rivlin said the congressman was arrested with other immigration reform advocates Tuesday after a rally in Lafayette Square, The Hill reported.

Eleven people were arrested for “violating regulations for demonstrations in front of the White House” and for “disobeying an official to come in compliance,” said Sgt. David Schlosser, public information officer for the U.S. Park Police.

Rivlin said the protesters were arrested after they sat down in front of a White House fence and refused to leave. They were handcuffed and transported to Park Police headquarters, the spokesman said.

Gutierrez, D-Ill., was arrested in May 2010 during a similar demonstration and paid a $100 fine.

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July 26, 2011

7/26 – CBSAtlanta – Public invited to immigration forum – CBS Atlanta News, Weather, Sports, Traffic – WGCL 46

Public invited to immigration forum – CBS Atlanta News, Weather, Sports, Traffic – WGCL 46.

Posted: Jul 25, 2011 1:37 PM EDT Updated: Jul 25, 2011 1:37 PM EDT

ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) – Sen. Curt Thompson (D-Tucker) will be meeting with the public on Wednesday, July 27, to discuss the current status of Georgia’s immigration laws.

The Committee on Immigration and Georgia’s Economy elicit testimony on the impact of the law on business, especially agribusiness.

Representatives from the Georgia Restaurant Association, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, and the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about the effect of the court injunction on parts of the new law.

Sen. Thompson will be joined by Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur), Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna), Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro), and Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur).

The meeting will take place from 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. in the Coverdale Legislative Office Building, room 307.

July 23, 2011

7/22 – CBSAtlanta (Video) – Survey shows restaurants experiencing labor shortage – CBS Atlanta News, Weather, Sports, Traffic – WGCL 46

Survey shows restaurants experiencing labor shortage – CBS Atlanta News, Weather, Sports, Traffic – WGCL 46

Posted: Jul 22, 2011 3:58 PM EDT Updated: Jul 22, 2011 6:50 PM EDT


The Georgia Restaurant Association conducted a survey this month which shows that Georgia’s new immigration law is having a negative impact on hundreds of restaurants.

“I was shocked at how much it has impacted the restaurant industry so quickly,” said Karen Bremer with the Georgia Restaurant Association.

Bremer is executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association. She told CBS Atlanta News that more than 500 restaurants participated in the online survey and 49 percent of the eateries said they were experiencing a labor shortage due to House Bill 87, Georgia’s new immigration law.

CBS Atlanta News spoke with the manager of Mellow Mushroom in Brookhaven and she said they have seen about 50 percent fewer job applications.

“It’s definitely a concern because that is such a huge part of the workforce in our industry,” said Burleigh.

July 22, 2011

7/21 – – Georgia Panel Will Investigate Public Employees Who Fail to Enforce Immigration Law – Fox News Latino

Georgia Panel Will Investigate Public Employees Who Fail to Enforce Immigration Law – Fox News Latino.

By Elizabeth Llorente

Published July 21, 2011  | Fox News Latino

State and local officials in Georgia who fail to enforce the new immigration laws could be hit with up to $5,000 in fines, and their agencies could lose funding, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The penalties would take effect once the state sets up a seven-member panel that would will have broad authority to investigate complaints about the failure of an agency or public employee to check immigration status when processing applications for certain benefits, such as food stamps and business licenses, the newspaper said.

The panel is called the Immigration Enforcement Review Board, and is a requirement of Georgia’s law, House Bill 87, that seeks to crack down on undocumented immigrants in the state.

Related Slideshow

Several weeks ago, a federal judge in Atlanta blocked parts the law, including one that called for penalizing people who transport or harbor undocumented immigrants. The judge took the action in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups challenging the constitutionality of Georgia’s law.

But some parts took effect on July 1; others are scheduled to go into effect in January.

Georgia is one of several states that have passed laws aimed at discouraging undocumented immigrants from settling within their borders. The ACLU, along with other groups, has challenged each state’s law, saying that immigration is a federal matter.

Some 11 million undocumented immigrants are believed to be living in the United States; about 425,000 live in Georgia, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

“It’s costing us millions of dollars to have illegals in our country,” said Lori Pesta, president of the Republican Women of Cherokee County, to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We definitely need someone to oversee this entire situation because it has gotten greatly out of hand.”

Opponents of the measure warn that Georgia’s new panel will bring more problems than solutions.

“I feel bad for the folks that are going to be targets of this [Sen. Joe] McCarthy-like panel looking for ghosts that don’t exist,” said Charles Kuck, an Atlanta-area immigration attorney and member of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, according to the newspaper. “This is the witch-hunt commission.”

Meanwhile, community and business leaders say that immigrants – those who are legal as well those who are undocumented – have been living in fear since the law took effect. Pastors report lower attendance at Sunday services, and Georgia restaurant owners say they have lost workers and are having trouble finding others to replace them.

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July 22, 2011

7/21 – The Packer – Did Georgia law cause significant labor losses? – Crops & Markets

The Packer – Did Georgia law cause significant labor losses? – Crops & Markets.

Crops & Markets

A new immigration law in Georgia reduced the number of workers available for harvests this spring and summer, and a new survey will gauge the economic fallout from it.

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association has commissioned a survey of the state’s growers to determine how short of workers they were during 2011 harvests, and how it affected their ability to get crops harvested, said Charles Hall, executive director of the LaGrange-based association.

“There were significant labor shortages in Georgia this spring because of concerns over immigration issues,” Hall said.

Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, signed Georgia House of Representatives bill No. 87, which cracks down on illegal immigrants in the state, into law on May 13.

Within days, Hall said, growers were saying that harvest crews weren’t coming to Georgia because of the new law.

The association, which opposed the bill, predicted such an outcome in their efforts to convince legislators not to vote for it.

“What we said could happen, did happen,” Hall said.

Harvests of Vidalia onions, cucumbers, bell peppers, squash, watermelon and blueberries were among those affected by the loss of workers, Hall said.

In June, Gov. Deal announced there were 11,000 job openings in the Georgia agricultural industry.

For the survey, the association has commissioned John McKissick, former director of the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development at the University of Georgia.

Questionnaires will go to growers the week of July 25, Hall said.

July 21, 2011

7/21 – montgomeryadvertiser – Groups seek injunction blocking Alabama immigration law | The Montgomery Advertiser |

Groups seek injunction blocking Alabama immigration law | The Montgomery Advertiser |

A coalition of groups seeking to overturn Alabama’s strict new immigration law asked a federal judge this morning to block implementation of the statute.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center and National Immigration Law Center represent more than three dozen plaintiffs who filed suit against HB 56 earlier this month. The request for the injunction calls the law, HB 56, anti-American and says it violates the Constitution and would lead to racial profiling.

“Plaintiffs respectfully submit that this Court should enjoin HB 56 because it is a blatantly unconstitutional state law that regulates immigration and will require Alabama state and local officers to violate core constitutional rights,” says the filing, made in U.S. District Court in Huntsville.

A request for comment from Attorney General Luther Strange’s office was not immediately returned.

HB56, signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley on June 9, makes it a crime to be an undocumented alien in Alabama and for aliens to work in Alabama. In addition, the law:

— Allows law enforcement officers to detain individuals they have a “reasonable suspicion” of having questionable immigration status;
— Requires proof of citizenship to be carried at all times;
— Requires school districts to ask for the immigration status of students;
— Bans undocumented aliens from attending post-secondary schools;
— Makes it illegal to give an undocumented worker a ride to work;
— Makes it illegal to enter into contracts with undocumented workers;
— Provides non-criminal penalties for businesses that employ undocumented aliens;
— Requires businesses to enroll in the E-Verify program starting April 1, 2012.

Defenders of the law say it is a response to the federal government’s lack of action on enforcing immigration laws, and claim it will boost employment in the state.

“With almost one out of every 10 Alabamians looking for a job, we need to make sure that legal Alabama residents are not being passed over for employment in lieu of those who are here illegally,” said Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston. “We urge the court to uphold this law.”

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, said the Legislature would be willing to make “tweaks” to the statute if the federal court found problems with it.

“But Alabama is not going to be a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants,” Hubbard said. “Alabama will have a strict immigration law and we will enforce it.”

The request for a preliminary injunction says the law’s intent is “to control which classes of immigrants can enter and the conditions under which they can remain in Alabama – a brazen usurpation of the federal government’s exclusive authority.”

The filing also says legal immigrants would also suffer under the proposal.

“These restrictions subject all immigrants, whether documented or not, to repeated verification of their status in the course of their normal, daily activities, and fundamentally alter the conditions under which they may remain in Alabama,” the filing says.

If the injunction is not granted, most provisions of the law will go into effect on Sept. 1.

The law is similar to SB 1070, an Arizona passed last year that also aimed at curbing immigration into that state. A federal judge has blocked several provisions of that law from taking effect, including provisions allowing law enforcement to detain individuals they have “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally and one making it illegal for undocumented aliens to find work in the state.

Arizona-type bills that passed in Georgia, Indiana and Utah have also been blocked by federal courts.

(Updated at 10:57 a.m. with additional information and to correct that ACLU, SPLC and NILC are representing plaintiffs.)

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