Today advocacy organizations publish a new report based on data made available through FOIA litigation with the state and federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement that both outline the metastasizing growth of local police's involvement in immigration enforcement and the resulting patterns of prejudice and collateral deportation in local practice with little to no evidence of any relation to actual public safety efforts.
The data reveals that the federal agency's practice of requesting the extended incarceration of an individual because of the suspicion of the immigration status known as ICE detainers rose 17,169% from 2007 to 2013 with 96% of those targeted being of "dark or medium complexion."
Following the Federal District Court’s order today in Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, et al. v. Deal, et al., a coalition of civil rights groups announced the next steps in their effort to dismantle the state’s anti-immigrant law, HB 87. Significant parts of the law have been blocked by the courtsbut one provision remains that allows police officers to ask the federal government to verify the immigration status of individuals who are lawfully detained on state-law grounds. It does not allow for stops, arrests or even extending detention just for immigration verification. Today’s order holds that challenges to that provision’s implementation must be brought in other suits, rather than the original case that the coalition filed before HB 87’s effective date in 2011.
SB 160, a bill passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal, goes into effect today. Although the primary purpose of this bill was to fix problems created by Georgia’s anti-immigrant law, HB 87, the new bill added some new provisions that we at the ACLU of Georgia fear will harm our state’s immigrant communities and their families.
These provisions include the addition of new items to Georgia’s list of public benefits subject to verification of citizenship and immigration status, as well as limits to the use of foreign passports as acceptable identification in Georgia. These changes to Georgia law make a bad situation worse.
Two years ago, Georgia passed one of the most stringent immigration laws in the country, House Bill 87. Both supporters and opponents of the bill now agree that it has a major flaw which needs to be fixed quickly. As written, the law subjects U.S. citizens renewing a professional license to months of delay, costing many of them their jobs and livelihood.
Legislators from both sides of the aisle wisely pledged to work together to do away with this unacceptable consequence. Straightforward, fix-it bills were introduced in the state House and Senate. Unfortunately, a few legislators have made last-minute changes to one of the bills, sending it in a completely different direction. Their amendments threaten to embroil Georgia into another protracted and rancorous debate over provisions similar to the one that prompted a fix in the first place.
The amended bill would make it a crime for state and local government officials to accept any foreign passport as proof of identification unless the passport is accompanied by proof of legal immigration status. This, even though a passport is the most secure form of ID issued by an individual's country of citizenship and one that's accepted by the federal TSA for airplane travel, where security is paramount. It defies common sense to make it a crime for government workers to accept foreign passports as proof that a person is who they say they are.
Although the consequences of this provision may not be readily apparent, it could bar immigrants from obtaining marriage certificates in counties such as Fulton where a foreign passport is readily accepted as ID for this transaction, and prevent children of immigrants from attending public schools to the extent that the schools require proof of ID for enrollment.
Another of the amendments could make it impossible for some lawfully present immigrants including young people granted deferred action from deportation and individuals granted reprieve from natural disasters and war to obtain driver's licenses.
Besides the harm to individuals, the amendments would impose an unfair burden on local governments across Georgia.
These changes inject chaos into an otherwise sensible proposal. Let's get back to making common sense, constructive change. Legislators and the governor can do that, by supporting the original fix-it bills that lawmakers crafted to address a problem they agreed needed attention.
You can read the article at the Daily Report here.
As the first year anniversary of the signing into law of Georgia’s House Bill 87 approaches, the ACLU Foundation of Georgia today released an updated version of Frequently Asked Questions about the Georgia Racial Profiling Law. The pamphlet includes information about the various sections of law and their implementation, the legal challenge, where the law now stands, as well as the negative impact of the law on Georgia’s economy and reputation. Download the pamphlet for more information.