UPDATE at 3:35 p.m. (incorporates and adds to previous updates) –The bulk of Georgia’s illegal-immigration law, known as HB 87, remains intact even though a federal judge Monday blocked two of the more controversial pieces of it from taking effect Friday as scheduled.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash said two provisions of the law — a requirement that law enforcement officers check the immigration status of people who can’t provide IDs, and punishments for anyone who harbors or transports anyone else illegally present in the country — unlawfully preempt federal statutes. He issued an injunction to prevent them from taking effect July 1.
But the rest of the law remains will proceed, including phased-in requirements for businesses and local/state governments and agencies to check the immigration status of new hires, penalties of up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for people who use fake identification documents to get a job in Georgia, and requirements that anyone receiving public benefits such as food stamps provide a “secure and verifiable” ID document.
Given all that, I don’t think today’s ruling changes very much for illegal immigrants. The “fear factor” will probably be lessened, particularly with the change in the law-enforcement piece, but an injunction can always be reversed on appeal. Getting a job or public benefits will be more difficult for them, as the law’s authors intended. I doubt South Georgia farmers will suddenly see a flood of migrants returning to work.
In other words, we still need a workable, federal solution to the problem of illegal immigration.
Many new Georgia laws take effect this Friday, July 1, including the big illegal immigration statute, HB 87. Unless, in the case of the immigration law, a federal judge strikes down all or part of it before then.
The questions U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash asked at a hearing last week suggest he’s inclined to do just that. If so, we’re likely to have even more confusion and turmoil than we’ve seen in the two months since the bill passed. But there will also be opportunity for:
I’m a little less clear on what supporters of the law will be able to do in the face of an injunction, other than ask an appeals court to overturn it. I would assume the less legally controversial parts of the law — the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld a state’s E-Verify requirement — would not be thrown out. But if not, might the General Assembly take them up in a smaller bill during this summer’s special redistricting session?
– By Kyle Wingfield