Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Georgia anti-immigration law faces legal injunction

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash issued an injunction against the provisions of HB 87 including a provision which would have empowered police to investigate the immigration statuses of people they had “reasonable suspicion” to believe were undocumented.

ATLANTA, GA -- A federal judge has issued a temporary block against two of the harshest provisions of Georgia’s new sweeping anti-immigrant law, HB 87, just days before the law is set to go into effect.

Most of the law still stands, and is set to go into effect later this week, on July 1. Today, a handful of Georgia undocumented immigrant youth are headed to Atlanta to protest the law and this afternoon plan to risk arrest by announcing their status in the state capitol.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash issued an injunction against the provisions of HB 87 which were designed to mimic Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070, including a provision which would have empowered police to investigate the immigration statuses of people they had “reasonable suspicion” to believe were undocumented. Judge Thrash also enjoined, pending the outcome of a court challenge to the law, the portion of HB 87 which made it a state crime to harbor or transport an undocumented immigrant.

Yet the undocumented immigrant youth who are headed to the state capitol aren’t letting up.

“Our biggest fear is that people think that some form of injunction against HB 87 means we can breathe a sigh of relief,” said Mohammad Abdollahi, an undocumented immigrant activist and cofounder of the immigrant youth clearinghouse DreamActivist.org said from Georgia.

“The things that HB 87 would have allowed are already happening in Georgia, with or without the law,” Abdollahi said, citing local enforcement policies that crack down on people who drive without a license and Secure Communities, an immigration enforcement program that allows the federal government to have access to the rolls of anyone who’s booked in a participating county’s local jails, even if charges are never filed or people are eventually acquitted.

On July 1, the state will go ahead with adopting the provisions of HB 87 which restrict immigrants’ access to public benefits and mandate the adoption of E-Verify, the controversial federal employment verification database. Thrash threw out arguments that challenged HB 87’s mandatory E-Verify provision. E-Verify supposedly cracks down on bosses that hire undocumented workers by requiring bosses to check the Social Security Numbers of workers against a flawed database.

Still, Georgia lawmakers consider E-Verify a crucial win. “We know the No. 1 incentive that exists for illegal aliens to come to Georgia is access to private sector jobs,” Republican state Rep. Matt Ramsey told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

It’s this climate of fear and anti-immigrant legislation that Georgia’s immigrant youth are protesting today.

“It’s crazy because you can’t even work,” said Jessica Vasquez, an 18-year-old high schooler who’s undocumented. “What are we supposed to live off of if you can’t even work?”

Vasquez will be one of several undocumented immigrant youth who plan to take part in civil disobedience this afternoon to protest HB 87, as well as a new ban Georgia adopted that forbids undocumented immigrant students from enrolling in any of the state’s top five public universities.

“I can’t live my life in fear. I’m tired of waiting.”

Vasquez said that even though HB 87 and other state immigration laws are tied up in the courts, they’ve successfully frightened the immigrant community, and that she’s noticed its impact on her own family.

“Every night I text my mom when she is at work and ask her, ‘Where are you? Are you okay? Are you coming home?’ and when she doesn’t answer I get mad at her because anything could happen to her,” Vasquez said. “When she comes in the door, I’m always waiting for her, just to know that nothing happened to her. That’s how hard it is.”

“The ruling is a partial victory for immigrant communities,” said Teodoro Maus, a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of HB 87 who represents the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. “Before HB 87 became law there was such aggression and misinformation about the Latino community. What HB 87 was trying to do was institutionalize it, and then harden to criminalize every action that Latino and other immigrants would need to live.”

Monday’s injunction is the fourth such ruling to be issued against a state immigration law. Similar injunctions have been granted against Arizona’s SB 1070, the Utah Compact, Indiana’s HB 590. The Department of Justice sued Arizona, arguing that immigration enforcement is strictly the territory of the federal government, but has yet to take action against the many other states who’ve passed restrictive anti-immigrant policy since.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Fourth of July, For Everybody - For All ! - Americans or not ! - Citizens or not ! - A good day for reflection - Think everybody that America can give more good fruits, for the Nation and the World - Think of the Common Good !

    The USA is a great contribution to the History and Progress of Mankind, to the development of Law, Government, Democracy, Freedoms, Liberties, Free Speech and Free Press, to Parliamentary or Congress system of Legislation, to Supreme Court, Circuit Courts and the Universal History of the Judiciary.

    But it is necessary to integrate American Latinos fully to American Society and in particular those called "Illegal Aliens", sometimes with derision and hatred. And called with more respect or love "Undocumented Immigrants" by many intelligent Anglos that understand that they are all part of America and the American Dream.

    This was beautifully and poetically expressed by President Obama in a recent speech in San Antonio, Texas - Nobody could have said it better than this Great Man and Great President.

    The Integration of Good Resident Latinos to American Civil Order and Society would be great fuel for the American Economic Machine and Powerhouse.

    I do not have the slightest doubt that this Integration by means of "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" or any other name or catch-phrase is good for the American Economy and to overcome any lingering doubts about Jobs, Employment, the Economy, Finance, Wall Street, the Debt, Social Security, Health Overhaul, etc...

    I also think that sooner or later all Political Parties in America will understand this Great Truth of Integration and Inclusion, and this will be a new impulse to American Society and American Dreams.

    The Nation that does not take advantage of Youth : of Children in Elementary Schools, of
    Youngsters in High School and College is asking for many troubles in the long term Future.

    Leaving Children and Youngsters uneducated is the best help to Crime and Delinquency, to thugs, to a Jail System ( many of those prisons are private ) that is an excellent business for a few, but that condemns millions to be bums for life, being fed, clothed and maintained by Taxpayers.

    The U. S. Supreme Court in its 1982 case, Plyler v. Doe reminded us why it's important not to foreclose public education to undocumented students : "Many of the undocumented children disabled by this classification will remain in this country indefinitely, and some will become lawful residents or citizens of the United States"

    The U. S. Supreme Court continues :

    "It is difficult to understand precisely what the State hopes to achieve by promoting the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries, surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare, and crime. It is thus clear that whatever savings might be achieved by denying these children an education, they are wholly insubstantial in light of the costs involved to these children, the State, and the Nation."


    Vicente Duque