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Friday, May 27, 2011 - 6:59am

Court Ruling Won’t Affect GA Immigration Law Challenge

The Supreme Court has upheld an Arizona law that penalizes businesses for hiring workers in the country illegally. But lawyers in Atlanta who are taking steps to file an injunction against a similar Georgia law say the ruling will not affect their plans.

The decision buoyed the hopes of supporters of state crackdowns on illegal immigration.

They predicted the ruling would lead to many other states passing laws that require employers to use the federal E-Verify system to check that workers aren't illegal immigrants.

And some said the ruling bodes well for the prospects of a much broader and more controversial immigration law in Arizona, known as SB1070, to be found constitutional.

That second law was passed in 2010. This year, Georgia passed a similar law that also includes E-Verify. Businesses in Georgia with 11 or more employees will have to use the federal database to determine employment eligibility of prospective workers.

Lawyers in Atlanta who are preparing to file an injunction against the Georgia law, known as House Bill 87, say the Supreme Court’s ruling pertains to a provision they don't plan to challenge.

“We were never including a challenge to the E-Verify portion of HB 87 in our litigation,” said Attorney Charles Kuck.

He added, the state is free “to impose unequal burdens on private employers based upon the whim of state legislators.”

He said the heart of his firm’s complaint will concern the portion of HB 87 that allows the state to impose burdens on the federal government. Specifically, he says the provision that allows police officers to detain illegal immigrants and then turn them over to the federal government for prosecution is unconstitutional. He says only the federal government can determine immigration policy.

Some of the provisions of Georgia’s new immigration law will go into effect on July 1. Both Gov. Nathan Deal and the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City, say the state’s law carefully avoids the constitutional pitfalls found in the Arizona law.

They say they expect legal challenges but they are not worried HB 87 will be struck down.

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