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 25, 2011
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: http://www.visalaw.com/atlanta.html. 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 http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/FindyourLegislator.aspx.
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.