Valdosta Daily Times

State News

December 12, 2012

Judge lifts hold on part of Ga. immigration law

ATHENS, Ga. — A federal judge in Atlanta has cleared the way for a section of Georgia’s tough law targeting illegal immigration that had been blocked to enter into effect.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash on Monday signed an order adopting a judgment on the law by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In a ruling before the law was set to take effect in July 2011, Thrash had issued preliminary injunctions that blocked some parts of the law pending the outcome of a legal challenge to the law filed by a coalition of activist groups.

A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit in August ruled that a part of the law that authorizes law enforcement to verify the immigration status of criminal suspects who fail to produce proper identification should be allowed to go into effect. Thrash’s order, which showed up in an online filing system Tuesday, seems to indicate that law enforcement agencies can immediately begin enforcing that section of the law, said lawyers in the case.

The 11th Circuit panel left in place Thrash’s injunction blocking part of the law that makes it illegal for someone to knowingly harbor or transport an illegal immigrant during the commission of a crime. That section of the law remains blocked under Thrash’s new order. The state can still appeal that part of the 11th Circuit decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The order issued Monday does not resolve the lawsuit filed by the activist groups challenging the law. It merely addresses the preliminary injunctions. The full legal challenge to the law, which alleges it is unconstitutional and is pre-empted by federal law, could drag on for years, lawyers in the case said.

“We’re going to be monitoring the implementation of the show-me-your-papers provision in Georgia very carefully,” said Karen Tumlin, a lawyer with the National Immigration Law Center, referring to the law enforcement section of the law. She said they’ll gather evidence on how the law is interpreted and enforced to use in seeking a permanent injunction of that section.

The Georgia attorney general’s office said in a statement that Thrash’s order simply applies the recent 11th Circuit order applying Section 8, the law enforcement provision of the law.

“As the State has argued throughout this litigation, Section 8 does not break new ground as law enforcement already independently possesses this authority,” the statement says.

Omar Jadwat, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that challenged the law, said that while the order seems to lift the injunction, “it would be irresponsible for the state to go ahead and start enforcing it without providing guidance to law enforcement on how it should be enforced.

Police departments and sheriff’s offices in the state are governed by local governments, which will have to make decisions about how to enforce the law. Unlike similar laws in other states, such as Arizona, Georgia’s law does not require officers to check someone’s immigration status. Instead it authorizes them to do so during the investigation of another crime if the suspect cannot produce an acceptable form of identification, such as a valid driver’s license.

Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association, and Frank Rotondo, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, both said they hadn’t issued any sort of guidance to local agencies on how to enforce the law.

Norris plans to talk to his organization’s training committee to see if they planned to issue any guidelines, but because of the large number of laws that officers have to enforce it’s not practical to issue guidance for each one, he said.

“If anything changes, it will not be an overnight change,” he said. “It will be a gradual acknowledgement of the provisions and a determination of how to enforce them.”

Rotondo said he doesn’t expect it to have a great impact on the way law enforcement officers operate and that individual local agencies will enforce the law based on their resources and priorities.

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

1
Text Only
State News
  • Ga. woman sentenced in child abuse case

    The mother of a 1-year-old boy who was hospitalized with a fractured skull in 2012 has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

    July 29, 2014

  • Kingston’s loss means less clout for Ga.

    For two decades, Rep. Jack Kingston was a congressman who routinely crushed his opponents on election night — winning a new term every other year with vote totals between 63 and 77 percent.

    July 28, 2014

  • salmonella 2 copy.jpg Trial nears for suspects in salmonella case

    Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georgia.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 2 injured in western Georgia small plane crash

    Fire officials say two people were hospitalized after small plane crash in western Georgia. 

     

    July 27, 2014

  • Nuclear Construction_Rich(1) copy.jpg Promises of easier nuclear construction fall short

    The U.S. nuclear industry has started building its first new plants in decades using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and money and revive the once promising energy source.
    So far, it’s not working.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Battle of Atlanta_Rich copy.jpg Civil War battle sites have a mobile app

    This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta, one of the key conflicts of the Civil War, and researchers at Emory University’s Center for Digital Scholarship have released a mobile app for the tour.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kingston, Perdue make final pitch in Senate race

    U.S. Senate hopefuls Jack Kingston and David Perdue hit every corner of the state in one final scramble before Georgia Republicans will choose one of them to take on Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn this fall in one of the nation’s most significant midterm election matchups.

    July 22, 2014

  • Senate race zeroes in on metro Atlanta, north Ga.

    Neither Republican running in Georgia’s closely watched Senate race has a natural advantage in metro Atlanta, where the state’s most populous area and a ring of northern exurbs are serving as the key battleground ahead of Tuesday’s runoff.

    July 21, 2014

  • Kingston, Perdue: Teamwork begins after runoff

    Businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston have plenty of criticisms for each other as they appeal for votes ahead of Georgia’s Republican Senate primary runoff.

    July 20, 2014

  • Senate-Georgia_Rich copy.jpg Kingston, Perdue offer few details on budget fixes

    Neither Rep. Jack Kingston nor businessman David Perdue has detailed a clear course for changing the nation’s fiscal situation, instead broadly railing against government spending and debt in their campaign for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results