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).