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Thursday, December 22, 2011 - 12:21pm

Court Won't Delay Immigration Law Hearing

A federal appeals court in Atlanta has denied requests by Georgia and Alabama to delay action on legal challenges to their tough new laws targeting illegal immigration pending the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court decision on a similar challenge to Arizona's immigration law.

The 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals on Thursday issued orders denying motions filed last week by the attorneys general of the two states. The Supreme Court said Dec. 12 that it would review a federal appeals court ruling that blocked parts of the Arizona law.

Both Georgia and Alabama's laws have been challenged by activist groups, and Alabama's has also been challenged by the Obama administration. Both cases were set for hearings in the federal appeals court early next year.

In June, a federal judge granted a temporary injunction of Georgia’s immigration law, blocking some of the law’s most controversial provisions.

The provisions include one that would have allowed the police to check the immigration status of some criminal suspects. The federal judge, Thomas Thrash, also blocked a provision that would have made it a crime to knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants.

Attorneys arguing against the law say states cannot make immigration policy. But the state attorney general's office has argued the law mirrors federal immigration policy.

The bill became law on July 1. But some of the more well-known provisions, including a part that will require many Georgia companies to screen employees using the federal immigration E-Verify database, go into effect next year.