UPDATE at 5:50 p.m.: Regarding the section of the law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants, the court found not only that Georgia’s law infringes on the federal prerogative to make immigration law. The court further ruled that Georgia could not make it illegal to induce an illegal immigrant to enter the state once already present in the U.S. Those provisions remain blocked from taking effect by a court injunction.
To be clear, and to correct my inapt phrasing in the original post, the court did not say the other sections of the law are constitutional. A lower court had enjoined two sections from taking effect while the question of constitutionality is argued. The section of the law dealing with checking detainees’ immigration status is still being challenged, although the Supreme Court’s ruling about a similar law in Arizona suggests that section is likely to remain in place until and unless there are specific challenges to the way it is applied.
The 11th Circuit has upheld the controversial section of Georgia’s 2011 illegal-immigration law that allows law enforcement to check the immigration status of people detained for certain crimes. The federal appeals court found 22 of the law’s 23 sections met constitutional muster and kept only one section blocked from taking effect. From the AJC:
[T]he 11th Circuit Court of Appeals also said it recognizes arguments from civil and immigrant rights activists that this statute “invites a host of other problems, namely racial profiling.”
“Reliance on race, color, or national origin that is constitutionally prohibited, however, is expressly forbidden by the Georgia statute,” the court said in its 33-page ruling, released Monday.
“It is inappropriate for us to assume that the state will disregard its own law, and we therefore reject the argument in this respect, keeping in mind that unconstitutional application of the statute could be challenged in later litigation.”
The court also ruled that another part of Georgia’s sweeping illegal immigration law should remain on hold. That provision would punish people who knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants while committing another crime.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said via press release that it was too early to say whether the state would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to restore that section of the law.
– By Kyle Wingfield