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Lawsuit filed against Georgia's new immigration law

7:49 PM, Jun 2, 2011   |    comments
The ACLU is among groups suing over Georgia's new immigration law.
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ATLANTA - Everybody knew it was coming and on Thursday it arrived.

As promised, the American Civil Liberties Union and several other civil rights groups filed a Federal lawsuit, challenging the constitutionality of Georgia's new immigration reform law.

But even before they filed it, a big part of HB 87 may already be immune.

It's the part that would require most businesses and governments to check the legal status of their workers through the Federal E-Verify system.

Just last week the U.S. Supreme held up a similar Arizona E-Verify law.

Still in question, though, is the part of Georgia's law that would allow local and state police to check a suspect's status if they've already been stopped for another offense and if the officer has probable cause to believe the suspect may be here illegally.

"Giving police unprecedented authority to demand papers is un-American and something we abhor in other non-democratic countries," said ACLU of Georgia Legal Director Chara Jackson.

She and others characterized HB 87 as racist.

"There's no doubt that this law is aimed at people of color, guaranteeing that people who look a certain way, documented or not, will be second class citizens in their own state," said Mary Baurer, Legal Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"Law enforcement officers are not going to racially profile anyone," replied D.A. King of the Dustin Inman Society.

An anti-illegal immigration lobbyist who helped draft the Georgia law, King says Georgia's police section is far more lenient than an Arizona law which has been put on hold by lower Federal court rulings.

"This law was written with a great deal of attention to detail and we did learn from what happened in Arizona," Kind said.

Governor Nathan Deal, who signed the new law last month, issued a written statement saying he expected a lawsuit.

"These organizations falsely claim HB 87 is a copycat of Arizona's legislation. It is not", Deal said.

The Governor's statement also took note of last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling saying it, "sent a strong message that efforts made by the states to reign in illegal immigration are constitutional."

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens issued a statement calling the legal challenge "meritless and baseless".

He, too, pointed to last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

D.A. King issued a call to Governor Deal to create a legal defense fund that could accept citizen donations to help offset any tax dollars being spent to defend the law.

A similar citizen fund has raised more than $3-million to pay for Arizona's defense so far.

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