ATLANTA - The state of Georgia said Friday in a court filing that its law targeting illegal immigration should be upheld in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last month on a similar law enacted by Arizona.
The high court upheld a section of Arizona's law that requires police to check the immigration status of those they stop for other reasons. It also struck down three key sections that would: require all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers; make it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job; and allow police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March heard arguments in challenges to both Georgia and Alabama's illegal immigration crackdowns, but the three-judge panel said at the time that it would wait to rule until after the Supreme Court had ruled in the Arizona case. Friday is the deadline for lawyers in those cases to submit new briefs based on the Supreme Court ruling. By early afternoon, only Georgia's filing was available in an online court system.
One part of Georgia's law that was blocked last year by a federal judge is ``more tempered'' but ``bears close similarity in all respects'' to that section, Georgia's lawyers argue in their filing with the 11th Circuit. Georgia's law would authorize law enforcement officers to try to verify a suspect's immigration status during an investigation if the officer has probable cause to believe the person has committed a criminal violation.
Georgia's law does not contain provisions that are similar to the sections of Arizona's law that were struck down by the Supreme Court, Georgia's court filing says.
A second section of Georgia's law that was blocked last year would make it a crime to transport or harbor an illegal immigrant during the commission of another offense. That section mirrors federal law and does not hinge on the immigration status of the person committing the crime, Georgia's filing says.
The state of Georgia makes a key distinction between the challenges to the Georgia and Arizona laws. Arizona's law was challenged both by activist groups and by the federal government, while Georgia's was challenged only by a coalition of activist groups and individuals. The Supreme Court heard only the federal government challenge to Arizona's law.
A big part of the challenges to the state laws targeting illegal immigration has centered on federal pre-emption, whether the states are overstepping their authority by wading into immigration regulation. Georgia argues in its court filing that the private parties that challenged its law don't have the standing to argue against the law on pre-emption grounds.
Critics of the state laws also argue that they could lead to racial and ethnic profiling. The states have argued that the laws specifically prohibit profiling.