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Judge blocks provisions in Georgia immigration law

A federal judge has issued an injuction blocking certain provisions in Georgia’s new immigration law from taking effect, as they were scheduled to do on Friday. The two sections that Judge Thomas Thrash stopped from going into effect would have criminalized transporting or harboring an undocumented immigrant and required that local and state police check immigration status when detaining someone for a traffic violation or greater crime. The primary rationale for blocking these two sections was that they preempted federal law. In his decision, the judge said that, “The apparent legislative intent is to create such a climate of hostility, fear, mistrust and insecurity that all illegal aliens will leave Georgia.”

In last week’s hearing on the law, Thrash expressed considerable skepticism with these two sections, repeatedly asking the state’s attorney serious questions about what their actual effects on the lives of immigrants and their friends and relatives would be in practice.

However, Thrash also dismissed many parts of the lawsuit brought by civil and immigrant rights groups, including those that objected to other sections of the bill on the basis that they would inevitably lead to racial profiling and violated Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

One of the more controversial sections that the judge permitted, set to phase in at the beginning of next year, according to the Associated Press, will require businesses to check the documentation of all of their employees using the federal E-Verify program. The law’s critics have blamed this provision for the recent labor shortages on Georgia farms, which are dealing significant damage to this year’s crops, as immigrant workers flee the state in large numbers.

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