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Friday, February 4, 2011 - 10:12am

Lawmakers Scrutinize Immigration Bill

Updated: 3 years ago.
Republican Representative Matt Ramsey fields questions from lawmakers in a crowded committee hearing on his immigration reform bill (photo by Melissa Stiers).

State lawmakers have started combing through proposed illegal immigration reform measures.

A major concern is making sure a Georgia law won’t provoke a federal lawsuit.

Republican Representative Matt Ramsey introduced his immigration bill last week, and it’s already changing to make sure it will withstand a constitutional challenge.

The most contentious of its many provisions is one that lets law enforcement check the status of people arrested for other crimes and hold them until they can prove they’re here legally.

Ramsey says the current bill gets rid of that detainment language.

“We’ve had good advice from a number of attorneys who say that’s something we’d probably lose on a facial challenge, so we’ve made it so the verification process has to occur within the criminal investigation.”

Azadeh Shahshahani with the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia says the bill still lets officers check immigration status based on reasonable suspicion and that’s unconstitutional.

"We are concerned that the legislation as presented would authorize and encourage law enforcement to engage in racial profiling and we believe that any legislation that would turn the state into 'show me your papers' territory would not withstand a legal challenge.”

Shahshahani likens the Georgia bill to Arizona law which is currently being challenged in federal court.

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