Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Key sections of Georgia's anti-immigrant law HB87 are about to take effect on Sunday, January 1, 2012.
The E-Verify requirement is about to take effect on that date by requiring employers with more than 500 employees to participate in E-Verify to check employment eligibility of their new hires. Businesses that have 100-499 employees will be required to use E-Verify as of July 1, 2012 and companies with more than 10 employees are required to use E-verify by July 1, 2013. Employers with 10 or fewer employees are exempt under HB87.
For most small businesses it will be difficult to comply with the E-Verify requirements of training and administration and other than being cumbersome, it does not really prohibit unlawful workers from working.
Another section of HB87 that will take effect is that any agency administering public benefits must require each applicant to provide a "secure and verifiable document" of identity, which does not include most foreign documents. Will the abused undocumented immigrant women now have to go to private shelters rather than public ones?
Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


In case you think that those who say our restrictive immigration policies hurt America's ability to compete and generate good jobs are just spouting off unsubstantiated arguments, here is proof that they're right. From the Wall Street Journal:

Immigrants have started nearly half of America’s 50 top venture-funded companies and are key members of management or product development teams in almost 75 percent of those companies.

Those are the results of a new study by the National Foundation for American Policy, which cites the numbers in calling for changes to immigration policy to make it easier for immigrant entrepreneurs to come to the United States and begin building companies.

Using the “Next Big Thing” list of Top 50 venture-funded companies published in March 2011 in The Wall Street Journal and compiled by research firm VentureSource, a unit of Journal owner News Corp., the research finds that 46 percent, or 23 out of 50, of the country’s top venture-funded companies had at least one immigrant founder.

The research also found that 37 of the top 50 companies, or 74 percent, had at least one immigrant helping the company grow and innovate by filling a key management or product development position. Chief technology officer, chief executive and vice president of engineering are the most common positions held by immigrants in the top 50 venture-backed companies.

The NFAP report notes that legislation is needed to ensure we continue to attract these business superstars. Unfortunately, we have a dysfunctional Congress where most members probably agree that we need changes to attract entrepreneurs but are so cowed by a tiny minority of antis that they're afraid to make even modest changes, much less do anything bold.

The study by the National Foundation of American Policy can be found at:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


HB87 and immigration overall was a key topic during the recent legislative session in Georgia. For next year's legislative session, not a lot is expected to happen on legislation on new immigration issues, although there are a few proposals that will probably be discussed at the beginning of next year.
Some Georgia lawmakers (predominantly Republicans) who voted for HB87 are feeling the pressure from voters and would like to ease the requirements to help farmers, but I am not sure how that will be possible unless they repeal the entire law. Secretary of State Brian Kemp has lobbied for changes to help him and his staff deal with difficulties in complying with HB87 while issuing and renewing professional or business licenses. He would like to check documents only when new license applications are received, not for renewals and also would like to check the documents in a percentage of the cases as an audit mechanism, not for everyone. Right now according to HB87 it has to be done for everyone and there is not enough staff to do it.
A couple of other bills that will be considered next year is a bill that would bar undocumented immigrants from all state colleges and universities, which could possibly pass. Another bill would would require primary and secondary schools and medical facilities to record the immigration status of students and patients, which is probably either not going to pass or if it does pass, would face constitutional challenges.
It appears that Georgia Republicans are even worse than Alabama Republicans when it comes to immigration. Some prominent Alabama Republicans including the attorney general for that state have called for changes to HB56 in light of the public outcry and constitutional challenges.
I guess Georgia lawmakers would have to wait until the Supremes decide the Arizona case.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


The U.S. Supreme Court granted Certiorari (a writ to hear the case) in the ongoing battle of state immigration laws. Arizona's SB1070 will be scrutinized by the highest court to determine whether some provisions are constitutional, for example the provisions requiring all immigrants to carry immigration papers, the provisions giving power to the police to arrest suspected undocumented immigrants without a warrant or probable cause.
I am sure this will also have effect on the Georgia immigration law HB87 and Alabama's HB56.
It will take a long time before a hearing is scheduled.

Friday, December 9, 2011


BIG news for our neighbors in Alabama. Fox Latino reports that "In the wake of growing criticism of Alabama's new immigration law business leaders, religious leaders and the federal government, the man who would be charged with defending the law in the courts, Alabama's attorney general Luther Strange, is suggesting that state lawmakers need to repeal some portions of the statute that have been put on hold by federal courts and to clarify others. In a letter to legislative leaders, Strange argued that the proposed changes would make the law easier to defend in court and would "remove burdens on law- abiding citizens." Strange recommended repealing a section that makes it a crime for an undocumented immigrant to fail to carry registration documents... He also suggested repealing the requirement that public schools collect information on the immigration status of students."
Yes, the Alabama law is bad, probably the worst in the country, and the legislature there is taking note. Too bad the Georgia legislators are standing idly by.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Interesting news item as the Iowa Republican party primaries are under way, a survey among among Iowa Republicans who are believed to be among the very conservatives in the country suggests most of them are in favor of immigration reform and are not in favor of kicking out the immigrants, even the undocumented ones. The survey was done in collaboration between the Partnership for a New American Economy and a group of prominent Iowa GOP leaders, and its conclusions were that most Iowa Republicans favor immigration reform. Immigration was not even among the top issues for likely Republican caucus goers. For them the main issue is fixing the economy.
72 percent are open to allowing foreign-born students educated in the United States enter the workforce after graduation.
71 percent are open to increasing opportunities for entrepreneurs from other countries to move to the U.S. to start a business here.
66 percent are open to increasing opportunities for high-skilled legal immigrants to enter the U.S. workforce.
64 percent are open to streamlining the process for employers to hire seasonal and permanent employees if U.S. citizens aren't there to fill vacant jobs.
Only 16 percent of these mostly conservative Republicans were opposed to pro-immigration reform proposals.
What does it say about Georgia Republicans and HB87?
The poll can be viewed at the following link:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Yet another development of HB87 in Georgia. A survey by the restaurant association in Georgia shows that most of the owners report shortages in janitors, line cooks and dishwashers since HB87 the anti-immigration law in Georgia was enacted into law.
What is the impact? Other than the immediate loss of jobs of the cooks and dishwashers, if the restaurants are missing those they will not be able to serve as many customers and may also have to let go other staff such as waiters. Currently the estimate is that a restaurant experiencing a shortage serves about 35 to 50 fewer customers a day but this might be getting worse. Because the revenues are down, these restaurants are not spending as much and cutting more labor.
Yes, and those same restaurants cannot fill the vacant jobs because Americans do not want to do them.
The immigrants that have legal status in this country like me have a lot of things to be thankful for this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Former Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox recently spoke against Georgia's anti-immigrant bill HB87. She said that bureaucratic delays of months that are expected to stem from HB87 could become catastrophic for people seeking professional licenses from the state and create direct consequences for small businesses.
The current secretary of state, Brian Kemp, estimated that enforcing the licensure part of HB87 could delay the licenses for tens of thousands of accountants, nurses and many other professionals by an additional three to four months, during which they cannot work (and nurses are in dire shortage). Each person applying for a license would be required to show identification in person which will delay turnaround time by 90 to 120 days. At the same time Kemp is asking for additional funding to hire more staff (another indirect tax and budget drain).
Georgia business leaders have raised concerns in recent days that the delays could slow down economic development at a time when the state can least afford it.
I applaud Ms. Cox' remarks. I will go even further and say that the law of unintended consequences is just that. There are far more reaching consequences of HB87 that the legislature had not previously thought about. There is no single positive thing that this legislation created. I am sure some additional unforeseen consequences will be revealed in the near future...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The Obama administration is deporting much more people than his predecessor. Deportations in the South have increased by more than 300 percent, and even 500 percent in some areas since fiscal year 2005, much faster than the national average. Close to 400,000 people were deported in fiscal year 2011.
In the area that covers Georgia, the deportations increase the most dramatic, from 4,129 deportations in 2005 to 22,963 in 2011, ICE data shows. In the area that includes Tennessee and Alabama, deportations increased from 3,480 in fiscal year 2005 to 15,363 in FY 2011.
Most people are being deported for minor violations or none at all (only immigration violations which are civil in nature).
This data is shocking but validates what we all see here in the Atlanta area and the immigration court in Atlanta and Stewart: more rapid deportations of people, most of whom are not represented. Having a good attorney in deportation or removal proceedings increases the chance of remaining in the U.S. by more than double. Leslie Diaz is the attorney in our office that specializes in deportation defense.
For the full article see:

Friday, October 21, 2011


The 11th Circuit's ruling in the Alabama HB56 battle may shed light into how the court of appeals will handle the Georgia HB87 anti-immigration law appeal.
Last week, the 11th Circuit issued an injunction against part of Alabama's HB56 and did not issue the injunction against other parts of the Alabama law, most notably the part that requires police to determine the immigration status of suspects they believe are illegally in the country. The court did not say how it came to this decision, the decision just listed the blocked sections.
Georgia's HB87 has similar provisions on police checking immigration status of suspects. It is worrisome that the 11th Circuit did not block that section, because that may possibly mean that this provision in the Georgia law will eventually be allowed to go through. However, the court’s ruling is preliminary and not binding, and was only given as part of a temporary injunction, which has a higher threshold than an appeal. The court could issue a different decision when it finally rules on the appeal. We'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Georgia’s own Attorney General Sam Olens said that a portion of HB87 is ambiguous and will probably be dropped. Once section of HB87 that says public benefits applicants must submit copies of their identification in person. Georgia's Attorney General said that it would not be proper to prosecute government officials for allowing such identification to be submitted electronically.
That should be a relief to County Commissioners who just cannot handle the volume of in-person applicants. But they would still be required to review electronically filed documents.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Earlier today, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked enforcement of parts of a controversial immigration enforcement law in Alabama.
The U.S. Justice Department and a coalition of immigrant rights groups requested that an injunction will be issued against Alabama or that HB 56 will be stopped from being implemented while the court considers whether it is constitutional.
The court blocked sections 10 and 28 of HB56 from being implemented while allowing the other parts to remain in effect, at least for now.
The arguments in the Alabama law are similar to the law we had in Georgia, that is that states cannot interfere with the federal government's exclusive authorities to enforce the immigration laws and control foreign policy.
Among the provisions temporarily blocked from being enforced are:
Requiring state officials to check the immigration status of students in public schools; Provision making "willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration card" a misdemeanor for immigrants.
However, the state will be allowed to have police during lawful stops or arrests to "attempt to determine the immigration status of a person who they suspect is an unauthorized alien of this country." That is one of the most controversial parts of the law and should have been enjoined. I do not understand why the court allowed this provision to stay as it clearly is preempted (as all other the courts that dealt with this issue have determined).
Other parts that were not stopped were a provision barring state courts from enforcing contracts involving undocumented immigrants, if the hiring party had a "direct or constructive" knowledge that the person was in the country unlawfully and a provision making it a felony for illegal immigrants to enter into a "business transaction" in Alabama, including applying for a driver's license or a business license.
The court also announced it would hear oral arguments on the constitutional questions on an expedited basis, as early as December.
The link to the court's decision is at:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Yet another problematic aspect of HB87 (surprise surprise) is the requirement of county business owners to renew their licenses in person each year to prove citizenship or legal immigration status. HB87 would require each license holder or a representative of the business to appear in person to renew the license for 2012.
This creates an enormous burden and additional bureaucratic hassle on business owners.
The license holder will also have to bring in an original form of identification and sign an affidavit swearing legal residency in the United States. The prior law required the business owners to sign an affidavit, but never required the owner to go in person with identity documents. This is insane. The county staff is also understaffed (pun intended) and ill-equipped to handle the workload.
The county commissioners hope that the Georgia general assembly would cancel this provision. It's great to hope but it is not going to happen.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Despite explosive growth in the Hispanic population in Georgia over the last decade, Hispanics have barely made a dent in the state political scene. Georgia Hispanics now make up 8.8 percent of the state population nearly doubling the state's Hispanic population in the past decade.
Only two out of Georgia's 236 state legislators are Latino. The Democratic Party of Georgia — which has been looking to rebuild after losing every statewide office last year — is making an aggressive push to register new Hispanic voters, showing up at Latino festivals with stacks of registration forms and using HB87 as a rallying cry to draw Latinos to vote.
Party chairman Mike Berlon estimates that between 75,000 and 100,000 Hispanics who could register to vote have not done so. Many U.S. citizen Hispanics do not take the trouble to register to vote or to vote. It's a cultural thing and the Democratic party in Georgia would be wise to court the Latino voters and urge them to vote. Hispanic voters have a huge political power in other states like California so the Democrats need to act now...

Thursday, October 6, 2011


A recent University of Georgia (UGA) survey estimates Georgia’s fruit and vegetable farmers saw at least $70 million in crop losses in the spring, because of fewer people are working on Georgia's farms, because of Georgia's HB87 anti-immigrant law. The overall economic impact of spring crop losses could be more than $390 million, with more economic impact due to loss of rents, grocery and other shopping that the migrant workers would normally do.
Farmers reported that crops were left in fields because they had 40 percent fewer people to help out. The Georgia politicians are still pressing strong in support of HB87.

Monday, October 3, 2011


In a surprising development late last week, Judge Sharon Blackburn did not enjoin major portions of Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law, HB 56, leaving many of its sections intact. She is the only judge in the country so far that upholds such a law.
Local police in Alabama can now act as federal immigration enforcement agents by demanding proof of legal status from anyone who appears to be foreign.
Other provisions—that are worse than any anti-immigration law out there—impose on public school administrators to check the legal status of students and their parents and report immigrant violators. Immigrants in Alabama will also have limited access to housing and utilities if they cannot produce the proper documentation.
HB 56 will inflict greater economic damage to Alabama, costing the state millions to implement and defend. Restrictive immigration laws have proven to reduce, not maximize, law enforcement effectiveness, because the police will now be targeting small civil offenses (such as immigration violations) instead of focusing on the real crimes.
An appeal is sure to come shortly.


After it's first meeting last week, the Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board unanimously elected Atlanta lawyer Ben Vinson as its chairman and laid out plans and procedures to handle complaints.
The chair Vinson said the board will be very narrowly weighing whether businesses and governments are conducting legally required checks before hiring or providing government benefits and will not be seeking out violators, but instead be reactionary to complaints.
The board already received its first complaint, filed against one business by another, which falls outside the board's jurisdiction (which can only investigate state and local government officials).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board is scheduled to meet Tomorrow (Thursday) noon to 2 p.m. in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Room 606, across the street from the Capitol.
The seven members of the board will be sworn in at the public meeting before they elect their chairman and discuss setting up committees and procedures for considering complaints about violations of state immigration laws. There were public cries against the appointment of Phil Kent to the board.
This board is responsible for investigating complaints that city, county and state officials are violating state immigration enforcement laws. It has the power to hold hearings, subpoena documents, adopt regulations and hand out punishment, including fines of up to $5,000. In summary, it has the ability to harass government officials. Let's wait and see what they do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


DHS has opened a new training center in Georgia to prepare ICE special agents and officers to enforce immigration and customs laws.
ICE's Director John Morton and Federal Law Enforcement Training Center director Connie Patrick opened the ICE Academy last week.
The ICE Academy and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center collaborated on the $2.5 million renovation. The new complex houses four computer labs, nine classrooms and two electronics labs.
I hope they will teach these officers to be fair and to treat people with civility and dignity. These qualities have been lacking in many ICE officers I encountered over the years...

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Following yesterday's post regarding Gov. Nathan Deal's appointment of Phil Kent, the leader of the hate group Americans for Immigration Control (AIC) to his Immigration Enforcement Review Board, there is an online petition which I urge you all to sign requesting to remove him immediately from the board.
Follow this link to sign:

FYI AIC has been for over a decade listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Kent himself is responsible for using intense racist imagery to support his beliefs. See ate:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


In an excellent blog post, Jay Bookman of the AJC explains how Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed a bigoted, anti-immigrant extremist to an important state board that has to supervise local government's compliance with HB87 and that the appointment should be withdrawn immediately.
Here is the link:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


About a dozen immigrants (and another dozen U.S. citizens) suffering from renal failure were refused treatment at an Atlanta clinic operated by Fresenius Medical Care and advised to wait until their conditions deteriorated enough to justify life-saving care in an emergency room.
This is a result of a deadlock in negotiations between Atlanta’s public hospital and the world’s largest dialysis provider.
These patients, rather than receiving dialysis three times a week, which is the standard protocol for cleansing their blood of toxins, they must wait until they are in sufficiently serious jeopardy to trigger the federal law that requires free hospital care in a life-threatening emergency.
About 2 years ago the management at Grady Memorial hospital, Atlanta's main hospital that cared for the uninsured, shut its outpatient dialysis clinic due to severe financial losses, which then cause the displacements of 60 uninsured immigrants.
Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for Medicare or any type of government assistance programs, and few qualify for private insurance. Grady continued to pay for the treatment of these patient at Fresenius Medical Care. The contract has now expired between Grady and Fresenius and no one would treat these patients.
Sad matter indeed. Both parties fight on who would be the appropriate party to pay for these and if no one pays, they will probably end up at Grady anyway getting emergency treatments for life-threatening conditions (which will probably end up costing Grady more).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Following the move by the Georgia university system's Board of Regents, five University of Georgia professors have started a program they're calling Freedom University. A new state policy has closed the doors of the five most competitive state schools to undocumented immigrants, but a group of professors has found a way to offer those students a taste of what they've been denied.
They will teach a rigorous seminar course once a week meant to mirror courses taught at the most competitive schools and aimed at students who have graduated from high school but can not go to these top schools because of the new policy
This is not a substitute for letting these students into the top schools, but as some help to people who don't have another option right now.
The program is currently taking applications, with the first class set to start on September 8. The five professors will rotate teaching the seminar course on their own time at an off-campus location. All qualified applicants will likely be accepted. What a wonderful move out of these professors. Hopefully others will follow suit.

Monday, August 29, 2011


The Alabama Immigration Law HB 56 is temporarily enjoined until September 29, 2011. Chief Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn issued a decision that states that it is in no way addressing the merits of the motions. The court will issue detailed Memorandum Opinions and Orders ruling on the merits of the pending Motions for Preliminary Injunction no later than September 28, 2011. This temporary injunction will remain in effect until September 29, 2011, or until the court enters its rulings, whichever comes first.
HB56 may not be executed or enforced in the mean time. Great initial news for our clients in Alabama!

Friday, August 19, 2011


In a wonderful and surprising move, DHS Secretary said yesterday that DHS will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against undocumented immigrants who are low enforcement priority for ICE and meet certain criteria such as attending school, having family in the military or are primarily responsible for other family members’ care.
The move comes after Hispanic and Democrat leaders pressured urged President Obama to help the immigration cause while Congress is gridlocked.
DHS will review all ongoing cases and see who meets the new criteria on a case-by-case basis.
The new rules only apply to those in deportation proceedings without final orders. It does not apply for people that are in the country illegally who are not in proceedings.
DHS will have to develop guidance on how to provide for appropriate prosecutorial discretion because many ICE field offices do not do it often enough or for good enough causes. It is still unclear how many people will be affected by this move or what the exact factors will be.
ICE already issued a few prosecutorial discretion memos recently that are yet to be implemented across the board, so it is a wait and see attitude. The main beneficiaries of this new guidelines will probably be DREAM Act qualified students (people who were brought here as children and completed college).
The move will free up immigration courts to handle cases involving serious criminals.
Individuals whose deportation proceedings are closed are not going to receive a visa, green card or any new type of legal status. Some may be eligible for work authorization, however, but even being granted such documentation will not be the same as having a legal status in the US.
There are no applications to file with ICE at this early stage. However, cases that merit prosecutorial discretion may apply at any time.
ICE attorneys are being asked to immediately start reviewing cases with hearings set in the next one to two months. DHS will also shortly begin the process of reviewing the rest of the 300,000 cases currently in the immigration courts. No guidance has been provided, however, on how long it will take before cases begin to be closed and how long it will take to review the entire caseload.
This is a welcome move by the Obama administration because the majority of deported individuals these days are low priority non-criminals that were detained due to minor violations.


Georgia's five most competitive public colleges have started verifying immigration status of students before enrolling in fall semester classes. So far only one out of the more than 10,000 students granted preliminary acceptance was barred from enrolling because the student is undocumented. Obviously Georgia colleges did not have a problem of many undocumented students enrolled in classes in the first place.
Another anecdotal proof that the vast majority of these students are legal residents. Is it really worth it to add all the paperwork and administrative hassles to this process for both the students and the colleges for "catching" a 1 out of 10,000? Definitely not!
The colleges are GA Tech, UGA, Georgia college & State, and Georgia Health Sciences University. Neither of them have turned away students because of immigration status except for GA tech that turned away 3 (out of how many thousands???)
Again another example of how the immigration debate is costing hassles over nothing.


Many Georgia farmers continue to suffer the consequences of HB87 which is scaring away their workforce and costing them lots of money. They are asking the federal government to help, talking to their Congressional representatives. This is the way to go as Congress needs to act, but if more pressure is not put on representatives, they will continue to do nothing.
One Farmer in Ocilla lost about $200,000 in blackberries crop because they could not find workers to pick them.
Other farmers report similar problems with produce rotting in the fields.
Still the Republican representatives are not convinced. Maybe they will if they are not re-elected.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Georgia's Attorney General’s Office published a two-page list of 'secure and verifiable' identification documents people must use to get state benefits and services according to HB87.
The list includes U.S. and foreign passports (at least they include foreign passports which is great); U.S. military identification cards; state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards; tribal identification cards; and federally issued permanent resident cards. What about federally issued employment documents and things like that? Those are not included and people like refugees or asylees will not be able to produce these documents (usually they flee without passports).
As of January 1, 2012, state and local government agencies must start requiring people who apply for benefits such as food stamps, housing assistance and business licenses to provide at least one of these documents.
Government officials who violate this law can face up to 12 months in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. However this part of the law does not apply to some groups of people, including those reporting crimes, police investigating crimes and people providing services to infants and other children. So at least that part is better than the Alabama law (which requires school officials to report undocumented children registering for school).

Thursday, August 4, 2011


According to HB87, the first-of-its-kind Immigration Enforcement Review Board will be able to fine officials in the mayors, county commissioners, and even business license clerks $5,000 in fines. Georgia's Immigration Enforcement Review Board will undoubtedly be comprised of immigrant haters, who are citizen volunteers empowered by the state to investigate complaints about lax enforcement of immigration laws. No evidence is needed to investigate these complaints. The body will also have the authority to strip funding from local governments.
Governor Deal says the board’s seven unpaid members will be named in the next few months and he expects the panel to begin its work in January. How are they be going to be picked? Will the most racist person win a seat on this board?
This board will undoubtedly increase the bureaucratic burden on local governments without curbing illegal immigration.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Georgia restaurants report labor shortages after the anti immigration bill HB87 passed in Georgia. About half of the 523 restaurants who participated in a survey this month stated that they are having trouble finding workers. With Georgia's high unemployment rates it must be related to HB87. About 75% of the participants are located in the metro Atlanta area. 91% of the restaurants surveyed said they were opposed to Georgia's immigration bill. Not surprising if they cannot find workers to fill critical positions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


In a good article for the Houston Chronicle, Kelly Conklin, a business owner talks about E-Verify, its inaccuracies and why it would be costly to small businesses. According to Georgia's HB87, E-Verify will be a must for all businesses with more than 11 employees next year.


According to HB87, Georgia mayors, county commissioners and business-license clerks may face $5,000 fines from a panel of state-sanctioned volunteers empowered to investigate complaints about compliance with HB87 with a new Immigration Enforcement Review Board.
This board is a first of its kind in the nation and no other state that passed immigration (or anti-immigration) laws has such a board. The Georgia board will be able to subpoena witnesses and strip funding from public bodies it finds have violated the law and levy fines against governments and individuals.
The Governor is working to appoint board members. If it will be the usual anti-immigrationists it will cost towns lots of money because they will have to defend non-issues in court. Another huge waste of public resources to solve a non-problem because there is no evidence that the state officials violate any immigration laws. Most likely they do not. But under HB87 they may still be investigated for it!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Executive Speaker Series
“How the Immigration Bill is Affecting Georgia”
Wednesday, July 20th
With the new Immigration Bill recently passed in Georgia, both business owners and employees should be aware of the changes associated with the new law. This is similar to the measures taken in Arizona and Utah that have drawn legal challenges and has been said to possibly be the toughest law in the nation.
Mrs. Lorraine Chilvers, of City Club of Buckhead’s Board of Governors, will moderate a discussion with Georgia’s top Immigration and Labor Attorneys as well as the Commissioner of Georgia Department of Labor.
Join us for an important discussion on how this law can affect you, your family and your business.
Featured Panelists:
Mr. Mark Butler—Commissioner of GA Department of Labor
Ms. Karen Weinstock—Managing Partner at Siskind Susser PC
$21 per person includes three-course luncheon, tax, gratuity, & parking. Seating is limited and reservations are required—(404) 442-2600.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Georgia’s agricultural industry is going to commission a study of the financial losses it suffered this year as a result of HB87 that in turn caused severe labor shortages.
The study will be due October 1 and will quantify the farmers’ losses. Many farmers complained that HB87 scared away the migrant workers (predominantly Hispanic ones) they depend on to pick their fruits and vegetables. The labor shortages could cost $300 million in crops at risk this year. A state survey of farmers released last month showed they had 11,080 jobs open.
I am not sure what the farmers hope to gain by this study. Even if the study shows severe financial loses, will Georgia's crazy Congress repeal HB87? Probably not.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Besha Rodell for Creative Loafing in Atlanta wrote an article about how HB87 affects the restaurant industry around the city. She contacted a number of people in the industry to find out what they thought the effects would be and people were obviously reluctant to talk to her. She received some responses off the record. It's worth reading:

Friday, July 8, 2011


The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and a coalition of civil rights
groups including the ACLU filed a class action lawsuit today challenging Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law, HB56, passed last month.
The Alabama law is even more restrictive than the Georgia law HB87 and the Arizona SB 1070. The Alabama law requires school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents (which is the most outrageous in the nation); authorizes police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops; and criminalizes Alabama residence for ordinary, everyday interactions with undocumented individuals.
The lawsuit claims that HB56 is unconstitutional in that it unlawfully interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters, in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution; subjects Alabama residents to unlawful search and seizure, in violation of the Fourth Amendment; unlawfully deters immigrant families from enrolling their children in public schools; unconstitutionally bars many lawfully present immigrants from attending public colleges or universities in Alabama; and drastically restricts the right to enter into contracts.
If the federal judges there have any sense, they will block these parts from being implemented, similarly to the blocked parts in the Georgia and Arizona laws.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Georgia officials filed yesterday a notice of appeal of Judge Thrash's decision that blocked parts of HB87 (sections 7 and 8). The state of Georgia probably filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit that is usually a very conservative court and favors the government -- which one in this case -- will they favor Georgia is a big question. On immigration matters the 11th Circuit has been known to rule in a different way than the 9th Circuit -- the only other high court that addressed the Arizona issue and refuse to rule against the circuit court judge. We'll wait and see how this develops...

Friday, July 1, 2011


Here are a few of my favorite quotes from judge Thrash’s 79-page decision issuing an injunction against Sections 7 and 8 of HB87:
“The widespread belief that the federal government is doing nothing about illegal immigration is the belief in a myth. Although the Defendants characterize federal enforcement as “passive,” that assertion has no basis in fact. On an average day, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrest approximately 816 aliens for administrative immigration violations and remove approximately 912 aliens, including 456 criminal aliens, from the United States … In 2010, immigration offenses were prosecuted in federal court more than any other offense.”

“Of the 83,946 cases prosecuted under the federal sentencing guidelines, 28,504, or 34% involved immigration offenses. Id. In 2010, of 81,304 criminal cases prosecuted in federal court, 38,619 (47.5%) were non-United States citizens.”

“The federal government gives priority to prosecuting and removing illegal immigrants that are committing crimes in this country and to those who have previously been deported for serious criminal offenses such as drug trafficking and crimes of violence ... To the extent that federal officers and prosecutors have priorities that differ from those of local prosecutors, those priorities are part of the flexibility that “is a critical component of the statutory and regulatory framework” under which the federal government pursues the difficult (and often competing) objectives, of “protecting national security, protecting public safety, and securing the border.”

The state's "... claim that the new criminal statutes will prevent exploitation of illegal aliens is gross hypocrisy. The apparent legislative intent is to create such a climate of hostility, fear, mistrust, and insecurity that all illegal aliens will leave Georgia”.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Federal Judge Thrash issued an injunction against the governor of Georgia to stop some of HB87's provisions from being implemented as unconstitutional. The decision explains that because the ACLU and the other Plaintiffs have proven that they are likely to win on the merits, and in order to preserve the status-quo, the injunction was granted against the state of Georgia.
In a 79-page decision, the judge issued an injunction against the state of Georgia from implementing sections 7 and 8 of HB87, which are the sections most important to individuals living in the state. The judge determined that both sections are pre-empted by federal law, meaning that is if there is a conflict between state and federal law, the federal law controls, and therefore unconstitutional as they clash with the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. constitution. The court rejected the State’s “gross hypocrisy” in claiming that the new law was meant to prevent exploitation of undocumented individuals and called out the true legislative intent, which is to create “a climate of hostility, fear, mistrust and insecurity” in Georgia.
Section 7 also known as the “harboring” section creates crimes in Georgia that replace and add to the language of the federal law section § 1324 (at 8 U.S.C.) with its own criminal provisions. The federal law only involves very specific situations of helping people to get into the country unlawfully (for example coyotes). But HB87’s section 7 also wants the police in Georgia to prosecute anyone who transports or houses an illegal alien, including U.S. citizen children who give rides to their undocumented parents, wives that live with their undocumented husbands, etc.
Section 8 also known as “show me your papers” created a state system for policing civil immigration offenses. It authorizes state and local police officers to check the immigration status of suspects where there is probable cause that the suspect has committed another crime (even a federal civil immigration violation or traffic offense like speeding).
Parts of the law that remain include the E-Verify provision requiring businesses and government agencies E-Verify to check the immigration status of new workers and the section that creates a new crime for people who use fake identification to obtain a job (imposing fines of up to $250,000 and 15 years in prison). Other provisions include requiring people applying for food stamps or public housing to provide specific forms of identification.
Governor Deal said the state would appeal the judge’s decision and that the federal government is an obstacle to the immigration problem. Yes, Governor Deal, you are right in that the federal government is an obstacle, but it is an obstacle to states writing up unconstitutional laws as it very well should be. Almost no one who is here illegally is able to just get a visa (that does not exist) and get into the U.S. legally. It is not an option. That is why there are so many people living here illegally. The Federal law needs to be fixed, that is clear, and states should stay out of immigration laws because they only make matters worse.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Breaking news: Judge Thrash just issued an injunction against the governor of Georgia to stop some of HB87's provisions from being implemented as unconstitutional. Most importantly, police will NOT be able to check for immigration documents come July 1 and the harboring provision is also blocked as unconstitutional.
I will blog in more detail tomorrow or Wednesday after I have a chance to read the judge Thrash's decision in full but here is one beautiful quote: The state's "... claim that the new criminal statutes will prevent exploitation of illegal aliens is gross hypocrisy. The apparent legislative intent is to create such a climate of hostility, fear, mistrust, and insecurity that all illegal aliens will leave Georgia”.


The Georgia Agribusiness Council is estimating that the state of Georgia might lose up to $1 Billion (!) if crops would not be picked and rot in the fields, or not be processed after they are picked, because of the HB87 induced farming job shortage. This figure only includes this season's fruit and vegetables, and does not not include cotton and pecans that are up next for harvest in our state's cycle. Republicans who voted for HB87 sure found a great way to increase the state's budget problems!

Friday, June 24, 2011


After Governor Deal had an idea to cover the farming labor shortage with unemployed ex-cons on probation (which he thought was a bright one but we all knew it was not) most of the workers are either refusing the jobs outright or quitting after a few hours or a few days. One farm reported that of a crew of 11 probationers who reported to work early Saturday, one left after only 45 minutes and only five returned to work a second day.
It's obvious the U.S. workers (even ones with less options) do not want to do farming jobs. It's been obvious for years but Republicans don't want to believe it.


2,000 drivers and cab companies from the metro Atlanta area hired a law firm to represent them in opposition of HB87. The cab drivers may be in jeopardy for arrest for harboring - transporting illegal immigrant while committing a crime (such as speeding for example). Penalty for harboring under HB87 is 15 years in prison. So it's not hard to understand why the taxi drivers are concerned. Even though transporting less than seven undocumented people is a misdemeanor, driving more than seven is a felony. Cab drivers do not want to be pulled over and have their passengers checked for immigration papers so they joined the suit. Judge Thrash please rule for the good side (and it is not Georgia)!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Mexico and 10 other countries from Latin America incuding Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru filed briefs in support of the Plaintiffs declaring HB87 unconstitutional.
Attorneys representing Mexico filed briefs challenging similar legislation in Arizona and Utah. The briefs argue that the immigration crackdown could jeopardize close ties between the U.S. and its Latin American neighbors.
Mexico argued that these measures would strain diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Mexico and the interests of the two countries and would encourage discrimination against its citizens in the U.S.
The Anti-Defamation League filed an amicus brief also in favor of Plaintiffs warning that the law could deter Latinos from reporting crimes and create an underclass vulnerable to increased hate crimes and violence. The American Immigration Lawyers Association also filed a brief in support of Plaintiffs claiming that the law forces police to make highly discretionary judgment calls about who to detain (and they are certainly not trained for that).
I am not sure what legal standing Mexico has but the other Plaintiffs in this case certainly can show imminent harm if the law is implemented, and we all hope judge Thrash issues the injunction and blocks the law. He does not have a lot of time to act as it goes into effect July 1.


Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and other state officials filed a motion to dismiss the federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU and other organizations against HB87. The law suit requested the federal court to declare parts of HB87 unconstitutional and to issue an injunction against it being implemented. The law was assigned to Judge Thomas Thrash, a Clinton appointee who has been known to rule from the bench and has on occasion arisen to declare Georgia law unconstitutional. So the Plaintiffs have hope.
Today arguments were heard in the court room on the motion to dismiss and on the injunctions that Plaintiffs seek. The motion to dismiss argues that the civil liberties groups lack standing and have failed to state a claim. It says the state should be immune from such lawsuits. Both are ridiculous statements. Another ridiculous arguments that the state's lawyers made were that the undocumented could simply legalize their status and would have no problems doing so (false) and to top it all they argued that the law is supposed to help undocumented immigrants! It was clear that the judge did not buy that blatant falsity.
Where is the federal government? It was so quick to intervene in Arizona and should have rightfully intervened in Georgia. But it did not intervene in Utah either where a similar law was enacted earlier this year. I really hope that judge Thrash does not buy the state measly excuses and declares the law unconstitutional because it is.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has offered a creative idea to deal (pun intended) with our state's farm labor shortage caused by the new anti-immigrant law HB87. The state survey reported that more than 11,000 agricultural jobs remain vacant during the height of the fruit and vegetable picking season.
The agriculture industry is the highest revenue producer in Georgia (over $5 Billion) and Deal proposed that criminals on probation in Georgia can help with the shortage. It is estimated that out of Georgia’s 100,000 parolees on probation, 25 percent are unemployed.
I doube this solution will work because the state already experiences a very high unemployment rate of about 10% among the general population and the farming shortage continues. What would be the incentive for the probationers to do this work far from their homes?

Friday, June 10, 2011


A new report released by the Brookings Institution dispels the myth that all immigrants are unskilled, uneducated, and illegal. The Geography of Immigrant Skills: Educational Profiles of Metropolitan Areas, finds that the share of working-age immigrants in the United States who have at least a bachelor’s degree is greater than the share who lack a high-school diploma. Moreover, immigrants with college degrees outnumber immigrants without high-school diplomas by wide margins in more than two-fifths of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas.
This is against the populist belief that immigrants are unskilled or undocumented by large. Actually, most of the immigrants are highly educated.
In 1980, only 19 percent of working-age immigrants in the United States had a college degree, while nearly 40 percent lacked a high-school diploma. By 2010, 30 percent had a college degree and only 28 percent lacked a high-school diploma.
In 44 of the 100 largest metropolitan areas, immigrants with college degrees outnumber immigrants without high-school diplomas by at least 25 percent.
Despite popular perceptions, there are just as many high-skilled as low-skilled working-age immigrants currently living in the United States, and the growth rate of more educated arrivals to the United States now outpaces that of immigrants with little education.
The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA metropolitan area has a 13% immigrants in the workforce with a combined skill ratio of 119 (over 100 is good). The immigrant population for our metro area is at 713,333 with 152,799 low skilled immigrants, 238,983 with mid-skilled immigrants and 182,524 high skilled immigrants.
This is another proof that the real facts are often hidden in the immigration debate and we do need to get these things resolved in order to continue and enjoy high skilled immigrants.
The report is available at:

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Even before HB87 is going into effect on July 1, 2011, and even before the Federal Courts decide whether to stop many of its bad provisions from being implemented for unconstitutional grounds, many undocumented immigrants are leaving Georgia fearing the new immigration law will be implemented.
Some have a wait and see attitude while other people are trying to legalize their status (for more information on qualification, contacting our office would be a good start! 770-913-0800 or
Businesses that cater to immigrants are suffering because the law is scaring away their customers and employees. From grocery store to churches, organizations are suffering across the board. And it hasn't even started yet.
I received reports from hospitality businesses that have Hispanic workers that are putting in their notices and either left the states or about to leave the state.
Brace yourselves, it will get worse.


The Georgia Agribusiness Council says nearly half of the farmers it surveyed do not have enough workers to harvest their crops. The culprit? HB87. Even though it does not yet go into effect until July 1, farmers are experiencing severe labor shortages that they are unable to fill. Workers that have been available to them in the past are now leaving the state.
Agriculture experts seem to agree that migrant workers have skills and specific experience that are hard to replace even if local workers were available. Most of the time they are not because farm workers often move from place to place, harvesting crops as they ripen across multiple states. This does not appeal to most native born workers.
The governor ordered his own report on labor shortages for farmers -- due tomorrow. We'll wait and see.

Friday, June 3, 2011


Unintended (or maybe intended) consequences of HB87 is putting big strain on Georgia's agricultural businesses. Every spring migrant workers, many of whom undocumented immigrant pick fruits and vegetables in Florida and then move to Georgia and farther north. This year because of HB87 many workers are not coming to Georgia, fearing police racial profiling and being prosecuted for using fake work documents (with fines up to $250,000 and 15 years in prison, same as murder).
The growers will find it tough to get fruits and vegetables off the ground before they rot. The growers are only getting between 30 and 50 percent of the work crews that they need to get the crops in, according to Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. This association represents mostly medium- and large-size operations in the state's $1.1 billion fruit and vegetable business.
The legislation is just pushing people away, legal or not. The law is starting to have wide-range economic negative impacts - with a loss to the fruit and vegetable industry, that could total 25 percent to 30 percent of the annual this season - a cut of at least $250 million.
These economic giants need to put some public pressure on the elected representative come next time and not elect them (I mean those who supported HB87).


Just wanted to share with you all a link to a story that talks about Georgia and other states requiring employers to use E-Verify featuring yours truly.
The link is at:

Thursday, June 2, 2011


A coalition of civil rights groups filed a federal class-action lawsuit today against HB87 - Georgia's so called "Immigration Law" arguing among other issues that it is not constitutional.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, and argues that the Georgia law represents an unconstitutional interference with federal law, requires unreasonable searches of suspected illegal immigrants in violation of the Fourth Amendment, and violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, not to mention turning Georgia into a police state.
The suit is spearheaded by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Service Employees International Union, among other organizations.
The lawsuit targets the "Driving While Hispanic" portion of HB87, racial profiling and other constitutional challenges.
Next step is probably asking for an injunction against the law being implemented.
So far the federal government is taking its time.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) affirmed or upheld the prior courts’ decision (both district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) in the case of Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting. This law suit was part of the Arizona 1070 law that passed a couple of years ago forcing all Arizona employers to use E-Verify or they will lose their business license.
The Chamber of Commerce of the United States and various business and civil rights organizations (collectively Chamber) filed this federal pre-enforcement suit against those charged with administering the Arizona law, arguing that the state law’s license suspension and revocation provisions were both expressly and impliedly preempted by federal immigration law, and that the mandatory use of E-Verify was impliedly preempted by federal law. The District Court found that the plain language of IRCA’s preemption clause did not invalidate the Arizona law because the law did no more than impose licensing conditions on businesses operating within the State. Nor was the state law preempted with respect to E-Verify, the court concluded, because although Congress had made the program voluntary at the national level, it had expressed no intent to prevent States from mandating participation. The Ninth Circuit affirmed and SCOTUS affirmed too.
What does it mean? It means that based on this decisions states can mandate businesses within the state to use E-Verify as a condition for a business license. For us in Georgia it means that the E-Verify requirement in HB87 is here to stay and it will be futile to argue or sue about it in Federal Court. It doesn’t mean the other provisions will stay (especially about show me your papers) but the E-Verify requirement is solid and here to stay.
So, if you are an employer (or employer representative) or you know of one in need of assistance in registering for or operating E-Verify, please contact our office at 770-913-0800 or go to our Atlanta office website at:

Monday, May 23, 2011


Undocumented immigrants and their families who work in southeast Georgia to pick its Vidalia onions are considering leaving in the wake of increased deportation efforts after HB87 was signed into law.
Many people from Georgia's farming counties who are also conservatives oppose the law because of fear it will drive out the workers, both legal and illegal because these fruits and vegetables require hands-and-knees labor for planting and harvesting and U.S. citizens simply don't want to do this type of hard labor.
Even though a similar law in Arizona was stopped from implementation by the federal courts, many immigrants have by then fled Arizona. Similar things may happebn in Georgia because of fear while the law may be stopped any day now...

Thursday, May 19, 2011


While there is a chance that the authority of police to look at a person's immigration record based on HB87 will be stopped from being implemented by a federal judge, police chiefs across Georgia are debating how they will enforce HB87.
According to HB87, police can check immigration status of certain criminal suspects (even traffic offenders) if they fail to provide acceptable documentation. How will the police know what is acceptable documentation? They probably will not.
In addition, Frank Vincent Rotondo, the executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, says enforcement can be difficult if the immigrant needs to be detained. That is because the federal facilities lack bed space and local police do not have spaces either.
I hope the injunction comes fast from the feds.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Some business owners around the Atlanta metro area already hung, and others said they plan to hang posters in their windows to let immigrants know they are a safe haven for undocumented immigrants.
Elizabeth Anderson who works at Charis Books and More in Little Five Points said the poster is a symbol of their disgust for the new law and if federal deportation officers come to their store, they will tell them to get a search warrant because they want immigrants to feel safe.
The posters are part of numerous organizations that include Somos Georgia, 'We Are Georgia,' Southerners On New Ground, and Georgia Latino Alliance For Human Rights that oppose HB87. More on this to come I am sure.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Musician Carlos Santana bashed Georgia's HB87 in an awards ceremony at Turner Field over the weekend. During a pregame ceremony at the Major League Baseball’s fifth annual Delta Civil Rights Game that paid tribute to those who fought for civil rights Santana came to receive MLB’s Beacon of Change award. Santana then said Atlanta and Arizona should be ashamed for having immigration bills that have been called racially motivated and that Georgia's Latin workers should boycott. He also said he was giving voice to the invisible.

Remember, HB87 is not going into effect until July 1, 2011, so even though it is signed it is not going to be implemented immediately. Also, several law suits are under way to stop it from being implemented.

I will keep posting later this week about what HB87 means to everyday people.

Friday, May 13, 2011


HB87 is now law in Georgia. Well, at least until someone (like a federal judge) stops it from being implemented (which I sure hope so). Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a controversial immigration bill today requiring all Georgia employers (except the very small companies) to sign up for E-Verify.
Deal said: “What this bill does is … uphold the rule of law, level the playing field for employers and protect the taxpayers.” Well, not true. This bill is unconstitutional and burdens the taxpayers in Georgia in a number of ways. Also, this bill increases the likelihood of civil and human rights abuses and I sure hope the federal government and others interfere to stop this.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Breaking news just off the press: the Arizona-ish sections of the Utah immigration law set to take effect at midnight (tonight) are placed on temporary hold by a federal judge. Another hearing on the matter will be held next week.
This will undoubtly happen to the Georgia law if the Governor signs it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


In a letter containing a detailed analysis on why HB87 is bad, former Georgia Senator Sam Zamarripa wrote to Governor Nathan Deal a detailed letter outlining constitutional flaws, new crimes vaguely defined and disproportionate criminal penalties (time does not fit the crime). The analysis is great and available at:
Will this change the governor's mind about signing HB87 into law?


President Obama has spoken publicly against the Georgia anti-immigration bill HB87. The president said: 'It is a mistake for states to try to do this piecemeal. We can't have 50 different immigration laws around the country. Arizona tried this and a federal court already struck them down,' Obama told WSB-TV in a taped interview.
The Obama administration's Justice Department sued in federal court to block Arizona from implementing its law which was the basis for the Georgia law (to allow police to question the immigration status of suspects when there is 'reasonable suspicion' they are in the country illegally).
If Governor Deal signs it, the federal government is sure to follow suit.

Monday, May 2, 2011


In a rare statement, the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau went on record Friday morning against Georgia’s stringent new immigration enforcement legislation over concerns that it could hurt the region’s $10 billion tourism industry. The vote was unanimous in the bureau’s executive committee passing a resolution against HB87 as “unwelcoming” and could “tarnish Atlanta’s reputation as one of America’s most welcoming cities.”
“The loss of potential revenues associated with conventions and tourism would have an adverse effect on Atlanta’s economy and the businesses and employees directly and indirectly associated with Atlanta’s hospitality industry,” the resolution says.
The Arizona tourism got hit pretty badly after the anti-immigration legislation passed there, and Atlanta stands to lose much more because a larger portion of its income is derived by tourism.


In an additional trial to add controversey and pressure Governor Deal to veto HB87, the nasty immigration bill that passed the Georgia legislature, a group out of Philadelphia arrived in Atlanta with street signs and rallies.
Signs like "KKK Supports HB87. Gov. Deal, Do You?" were seen around the metro Atlanta area before they were removed and their sponsor is "The Diversity Projekt".
I think racist remarks will not change the Governor's mind, but maybe additional business pressure. He wants to get reelected after all.

Monday, April 25, 2011


The local Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), sent a letter to governor Deal urging him to veto the bill seeking to impose Arizona-type local state immigration laws. The letter includes statement about the bill’s unconstitutional intrusion into the exclusive province of federal law (which will require the State to seek to defend the constitutional preemption challenge that promptly will be filed in Federal Court), and the racial profiling that would be introduced into Georgia law (notwithstanding a flawed attempt to avoid this), there are other things to consider, including:
Unfunded state audit requirement of public employers to ensure they are complying with the E-Verify requirements.
The harboring section does not exempt immigration attorneys representing a person in removal proceedings (the only exemption is for criminal attorneys).
Unfunded Immigration Enforcement Review Board that establishes no requirements to ensure board members are in any way qualified or knowledgeable about immigration procedures.
There are many flawed issues within this bill, but I doubt the governor will veto it because he has such an anti-immigration record.

Monday, April 18, 2011


The Federal government indicted Oscar Lazo, 51, a citizen of Peru; Eva Ramos, 35, a citizen of the United States; Mauricio Cruz, a citizen of Mexico; Manuel Cruz, a citizen of Mexico; and an unnamed defendant with conspiracy to sell the stolen identities of U.S. citizens. According to undercover investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE),the indictment alleges that beginning in July of 2010, Lazo and Ramos, both managers of a local McDonald's restaurant, sold stolen identities to other prospective McDonald's employees, including Mauricio Cruz and Manuel Cruz, who used the stolen identities to obtain employment with the restaurant. Lazo and Ramos were also charged with harboring illegal aliens. According to ICE, nine others were arrested administratively for being in violation of U.S. immigration law. If convicted on all counts, Lazo and Ramos face a maximum penalty of over 100 years in prison. If convicted on all the counts, Mauricio Cruz and Manuel Cruz face a maximum penalty of 37 years in prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie Lee is prosecuting the case for the United States. While the crime itself is awful (if committed), this is a small example of how the Georgia anti-immigrant bill that passed does not cover incidents where people knowingly break the law. Mandating E-Verify on the employers would not cure these situations when identities of real people - American workers - are used to gain employment.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Last night the Georgia legislature passed HB 87, the Arizona anti-immigration copycat bill. The bill allows local police to investigate the immigration status of individuals and requires businesses to verify work eligibility of new hires through E-Verify. The legislature ignored the state's $1.3 billion budget shortfall, and the fact that the costs associated with the bill have not been enumerated by the state legislators. Even though the Arizona law passed, it has not been implemented and has been deemed unconstitutional, Arizona lost a whopping $490 million from lost tourism revenue plus $141 million from cancelled conferences, including a "quarter billion dollars in lost economic output," a projected $86 million in lost wages, 2,800 jobs over the next two to three years and more than $1 million that the state has already spent on legal fees defending it. Plans for an economic boycott of Georgia are also reportedly underway in a similar way to Arizona. Georgia stands to lose much more. The E-Verify requirement was stripped from the bill by the Senate on Monday, but the House put it back in on Tuesday. Last night, the Senate passed an amended version of bill (by a vote of 37-19), exempting businesses with 10 or fewer employers from the requirement, which the House then approved by a vote of 112-59. Governor Nathan Deal has indicated he will sign the bill despite public pressure and pleas from Georgia's business community, especially from the farming and restaurant industries. It is not surprising that he will not veto it because he has such an anti-immigrant track record in Congress. All Georgia businesses with more than 10 employees will have to now start using E-Verify unless injunctions will be issued on that ground. Businesses with more than 10 employees who wish to learn how this will affect them, please contact our office at 770-913-0800 or go to the Atlanta office webpage at: Law suits are sure to follow this legislature. Please also contact our office if you are an injured party (individual, business owner, association) who is interested to sue on this.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Local and national groups press Governor Deal to commit to veto Arizona-style anti-immigrant legislation in fear its passage will lead to national boycotts of Georgia (similar to the Arizona boycotts) from national organizations. A national network of organizations that coordinated the boycott in Arizona after the passage of its anti-immigrant law in 2009 has sent a letter to Governor Deal of Georgia notifying him of efforts underway to organize a national boycott of Georgia, in the event that Georgia’s Arizona copycat legislation HB 87 should become law. The National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON) and The Turning the Tide campaign sent the letter to the governor threatening to contact all conventions, organizations, companies, cities, counties, and states that participated in the Arizona boycott to advise them of the current status of Georgia’s legislation and tell them to be ready to change plans, divest, and/or issue travel alerts to avoid the state of Georgia. These anti-immigrant laws and consequent boycotts will have a devastating effect on Georgia's tourism and convention industry, one of the largest in Georgia. Other groups in support of the boycott include the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force. According to a recent New York Times report, Arizona had, less than six months after passage of the controversial anti-immigrant law, lost $45 million in convention revenue and stands to lose upwards of $750 million overall. If it stands, this legislation may cost Georgia a lot more because Georgia has more tourists and convention business than Arizona.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have decided not to take action against seven demonstrators who disclosed they were in the country illegally before they were arrested on charges of blocking downtown Atlanta traffic during a protest last week against a ban on undocumented immigrants attending some Georgia public colleges. Prior to their arrest, the protesters had declared they were illegally in the country and spoke in favor of the DREAM Act, which would allow them a a path to legal status if they enrolled in college or joined the military. The seven activists were instructed to perform community service after police charged them with obstructing traffic and prohibited conduct during assembly. At least a bit of good news for a few undocumented immigrants in Georgia.


In an unusual state of events the Senate voted upon a re-write of HB 87 after a long day of debate on 50 some bills yesterday. HB 87 was changed by Senate Committee, and further changes were made by floor amendments. There were many amendments put in last minute and it was obvious that the Senators were confused too on which amendment they were voting on and which states what. One amendment that passed after lots of pressure from the business community was to remove the E-Verify mandate for private businesses. So the good news out of all this is that based on the new Senate version, E-Verify is no longer mandated for private businesses. The bill goes back to the House where they will have an opportunity to Agree or Disagree with what the Senate did. The House can take-up the Agree/Disagree vote at any time Thursday (last day for them to do so). Agree/Disagree are voted upon in between other bills that are already on the calendar. The House could then try to amend what the Senate sent over, and then that would go back to the Senate. If the House Disagrees or amends the bill further, it will go back to the Senate where they have the chance to vote on "insisting" on their version or amending it further. And if this happens then the bill goes to conference committee. I don't think there is enough time for a Conference Committee and they are running out of time for negotiations between both chambers on the bill. Also, the Governor is staying out of the debate so far. He said that immigration is a sticky wicket. Although he is not expected to veto this bill if it passes because of his anti-immigrant record, as Governor he also has to balance the interests of businesses who are pressuring him to veto the bill if it passes. Please continue to call your Senators to stop this insanity!

Monday, April 11, 2011


A petition signed by over 15,000 Georgian voters, business owners, and human and civil rights advocates is being delivered today to Governor Nathan Deal urging him to Commit to Veto the Arizona-Style Legislation being considered in the Senate. HB87 passed the Congress and now the SB40 language was replaced in the Senate by the HB87 language so the stricter and tougher bill is on the table for a Senate vote. 3 days are left of the 2011 legislative session. A group of 270 farmers and business leaders delivered a letter to oppose the legislation, now this large petition with over 15,000 signature is being delivered to the governor today urging him to veto the legislation if it passes because it “will severely tarnish Georgia’s image in the eyes of the country and the world.” “If these Arizona-style bills become law, everyday Georgians will be mourning the loss of our economic strength and our moral compass,” said Lisa Adler of Amnesty International USA, which helped spearhead the petition campaign. “Governor Deal will be forcing us to say goodbye to thousands of jobs and millions of dollars. It will be ‘R.I.P to small businesses, to southern hospitality, to jobs, and to our civil rights legacy.’” The petition's organizers said that it only took them two weeks to gather the signatures – and if they had more time they could gather thousands more. At least some people realize this legislation will likely cause a big blow on Georgia businesses.

Friday, April 8, 2011


A legislation in Georgia to ban undocumented immigrants from attending state colleges and universities sparked a protest that resulted in arrests after it passed the Georgia Congress. Police apprehended at least seven of the more than 100 demonstrators who blocked traffic on Courtland street downtown. The group included college students, civil rights activists and others who marched around the Georgia State University Campus. Effective next fall, undocumented immigrants will be barred from admittance to the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Georgia College & State University and the Medical College of Georgia. While the ban does not apply to 30 other state colleges and universities, the above universities are by far the most well-attended universities. What a shameful piece of legislation. Now these Georgia universities will have to turn away academically qualified students who all they want is to study and graduate!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Courtesy of Greg Siskind: By this weekend, the federal government's funding is set to run out and unless there is a breakthrough in negotiations between members of the two parties, we could see a shutdown for the first time in more than 15 years. How will this affect immigration services? While we don't have a lot of experience with government shutdowns in this country, we expect that only "essential" services will continue. That means law enforcement, fire fighting, the military, utilities and prisons. Air travel is considered essential so air traffic controllers and TSAs will continue to work. And so will agencies that are funded by application and user fees. So which immigration services are to be hit? According to AOL News, the State Department will be one of the highest profile agencies to be affected: The U.S. tourism and airline industries reportedly lost millions of dollars after the 1995-96 shutdowns halted visa and passport processing. Approximately 200,000 U.S. passport applications went unprocessed during the shutdowns and 20,000 to 30,000 foreign visa applications were unprocessed. Emergency passport and visa processing should be available during the shutdown. USCIS Service Centers and local district offices should operate as normal because they are funded primarily through application fees. It's not clear yet what's going to happen at the Department of Labor. But it is very possible the iCert portal used for labor certifications and H-1B labor condition applications could be closed during the shutdown and H-1B processing could be delayed. ICE facilities will continue to detain people and the court systems - including presumably immigration courts - will operate as normal. But according to AOL, hiring at these agencies may be frozen: The last shutdown had a number of consequences for law enforcement and public safety operations, including reported cancellation of hiring 400 border patrol agents and cancellation of federal law enforcement recruiting programs. Processing of immigrants and non-immigrants at ports-of-entry should continue, but there could be staffing cutbacks that could cause delays. Of course, we're bound to be surprised by what develops and I'll try to report to readers news as it becomes available. I'd also welcome reports on what people are learning on their own.

Friday, April 1, 2011


All, in order to try and prevent this bad bill from passing, I URGE you to contact your State Senators, and let them know that they should be alert to DISAGREE on SB40when the House tries to send it back for an agree/disagree vote. The House Judiciary Committee took over SB 40 by substituting its own immigration bill in its place - effectively putting HB 87 language into the new version of SB40. Not only does this take-over negate the previous work of the Senate, but the new version of SB40 is infinitely more costly, opens the floodgates on private rights of action to clog our courts (every private person that believes an official is not complying with the law, can file a law suit against that official!), and it is wide open to constitutional challenges such as those seen in Arizona. It's the intention of the House to send SB 40 back to the Senate in this costly format, in the hopes that Senators will comply. Tell your Senator to DISAGREE when the House tries to send it back. People can find their state Senators at


This also happened last week when I was out of the country -- about 5,000 people got together at the Georgia state Capitol to protest against the Arizona-style bills that cleared the House (HB87) and the Senate (SB40). Speakers asked demonstrators to telephone the office of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to demand that he veto the bills if they reach his desk. 'We won't remain silent. We deserve respect and dignity as a community because this state doesn't work without immigrant labor,' said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. Christian leaders from across the metro area voiced their opposition to these immigration bills as well at the state Capitol. While people held up signs like, 'Is your God racist,' and 'Stop in the name of God' several religious leaders addressed the crowd. Glenna Shepherd of Decatur United Church of Christ quoted Reverend Al Sharpton: 'He said, 'Read the bill, read the constitution, read the bible, and then read the bill again. And see where we stand.' Other religious leaders have expressed concern about a section of HB 87 that could make it a crime to knowingly transport illegal immigrants. Darker times indeed if this bill passes.


The horrific SB40 and HB87 are still in the game in Georgia and gaining steam, which is bad for immigrants and businesses in Georgia. However, a number of smaller anti-immigration measures (some of which were reported earlier this year in my blog) have failed to advance and may be stalled for this session. Out of nearly a dozen immigration-related bills, only three cleared either the House or Senate by crossover day, the deadline by which legislation is supposed to pass at least one chamber, or cannot pass during the session. Apart from SB40 and HB87, the other immigration related bill that passed the Senate is a bill that makes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol a felony on the first conviction for illegal immigrants.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


While I was out of the country, the Georgia Senate kept busy - it voted 34 to 21 to pass Senate Bill 40, the Senate's version of HB87, while not as bad as the House Bill, it establishes verification requirements for companies with 5 or more employees to enroll in E-Verify (as well as all government contractors), and extends authority to local law enforcement officers to verify immigration status of people they encounter. Instead of forming a House-Senate conference committee to resolve a final immigration bill that would have public hearings, the Georgia legislature has been quietly trying to avoid this. SB40 has now been substituted with language from HB87 (as of the date of this blog). Both are Arizona style laws that are BAD FOR GEORGIA. SB40 now passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, and then it will go to the Rules Committee and could be before the full GA House of Representatives this week. Since changes were made to SB40, it would then go back to the Senate for Agree/Disagree vote. If the Senate agrees (very likely), then it would go to the Governor for signature. If the Senate Disagrees, then it would kick in a Conference Committee which will be charged to come up with a compromise bill, which would then be presented to the Legislature for an Agree/Disagree vote. Tough situation all around, and the legislature is doing all it can to pass this quietly without holding public hearings on these outrageous bills that do nothing to stop illegal immigration.

Monday, March 14, 2011


The Georgia legislature keeps coming back with additional bad bills (or at least proposals for bills) that are anti-immigrants.
Not only HB87 passed the Gerogia Congress, there is not a single good bill out there, all of which target immigrants. Not surprisingly, the bills' sponsors are Republicans lawmakers.
House Bill 59: Would bar undocumented immigrants from attending Georgia’s universities and technical colleges even if they pay higher out-of-state tuition (as the current law allows). This bill passed the House Higher Education Committee last month. Sponsored by Rep. Tom Rice of Norcross.
House Bill 296: Would require local school and hospital officials to count the illegal immigrants they serve each year under this bill. Sponsored by Rep. Josh Clark of Buford. This bill would create undue burden on local school and hospital officials (like they do not have too much work to do already), and is probably preempted by Federal law which requires hospitals to treat all emergency room patients, regardless of their immigration status or ability to pay. Similarly, all school districts must educate all children regardless of their immigration status.
Senate Bill 7: Would ban undocumented workers from collecting workers’ compensation benefits for on-the-job injuries. Sponsored by Sen. Bill Heath of Bremen.
Senate Bill 27: Would toughen existing laws to prevent state agencies and counties from hiring undocumented workers for taxpayer-funded projects in Georgia. It's already prohibited by current Georgia law and no proof of the State hiring undocumented immigrants has been shown. Sponsor by Sen. Judson Hill of Marietta.
Senate Bill 65: Would prohibit undocumented immigrants from collecting unemployment benefits (which is already state law). Georgia's Labor Department said Georgia does not have the problem the legislation is targeting.
Senate Bill 104: Very similar to HB 87 and SB 40. But it also would punish motorists who pick up day laborers under certain circumstances. And it would allow warrantless arrests of people who police have probable cause to believe have committed 'any public offenses' that make them eligible for deportation. Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga.
Senate Bill 174: Would require all jails in Georgia to participate in 'Secure Communities.' The program compares the fingerprints of people booked into jails against a federal database, and if an unlawful immigrant is determined they turn them to ICE for deportation. This is already done in Georgia. Sponsored by Sen. Charlie Bethel of Dalton.
What an awful collection of bad bills that will do nothing to combat illegal immigration, many of these proposals are already in the law. Waste of time of the legislature is not a huge issue for me, but adding idiotic requirements and additional burdening of schools and hospitals is outright crazy.

Friday, March 11, 2011


USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas told a group of attorneys general in Washington this week that the federal government wants to work with them to protect vulnerable immigrants from falling prey to fake immigration lawyers. Apparently, the federal government is also concerned about this and will help prosecute the offenders. This is encouraging news.
Atlanta will serve as one test site (out of six other cities including Baltimore, Detroit, Fresno, Los Angeles, New York and San Antonio) for a federal program to warn people about fake immigration lawyers who charge high fees and give fraudulent advice regarding how to obtain citizenship, green cards and immigration benefits.
Those of us who practice immigration law legitimately all have had clients come to us stating that a fake immigration lawyer gave them the wrong advice which caused their cases to be denied by USCIS and put them in deportation proceedings. Most commonly Hispanic people from Latin America are falling prey to notarios - that are not attorneys in the U.S. only notary public (which everyone can basically be), paying them a lot of money and relying on incorrect advice. In Latin America notarios are very respected attorneys and this population that many time is uneducated tends to fall prey to these scoundrels. At least the federal government is starting to do something about it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


House Bill 87 -- the bad Arizona style state immigration law that does nothing to combat illegal immigration passed the Georgia House of Representatives by a largely party-line vote of 113-56. Since the house is heavily controlled by Republicans it is not a huge surprise that they passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where a conference committee would be probably set to resolve any differences between this bill and the Senate's proposed bill. While it may morph to something different, this is such a bad law that it should not be accepted in any way, shape or form and should be vetoed by the Governor before it sees the light of day. I explained at length in my blog previously why this is so bad. You can find the blog post directly here:
We'll have to wait and see.