Late last week, the Georgia state legislature passed a bill similar to Arizona’s controversial immigration law that expands the authority of police to check the immigration status of suspects and require employers to check the status of potential employees. A spokesman for Republican Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said Friday that Deal intends to sign the bill into law and that he believes “it reinforces the law in Georgia,” reported CNN. Both the Georgia House and Senate approved the bill in the final hours of the legislative session.
The bill, HB 87, requires “private employers to use an employment eligibility verification system and provide for civil penalties” if employers fail to follow certain rules. The bill also requires contractors to “register with” and be “authorized to use” the federal work authorization program, among other employment provisions.
Regarding law enforcement, the bill allows “law enforcement officers and agencies” expanded priviledges “to utilize all resources made available by the federal government to assist state and local law enforcement officers in the enforcement of the immigration laws” and stipulates “immunity from damages or liability from such actions.” Police would be allowed to check the immigration status of any suspect of any crime.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a 2009 estimate indicates that there are approximately 480,000 undocumented immigrants in Georgia, which is roughly 20,000 more than Arizona.
Last week, the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a District court ruling that blocks portions of Arizona’s immigration law (SB 1070) from going into effect. The three judge panel ruled that District Judge Susan Bolton “did not abuse” her power in her decision to block portions of the law, including a requirement that police check the immigration status of criminal suspects that they had stopped while enforcing other laws and a provision that would make it a crime not to carry immigration papers. The Circuit court did not rule on the constitutionality of the Arizona law. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) continues to defend the immigration law and stated that she is considering whether to take the case to the US Supreme Court.