ACLU Asks Appeals Court to Block Anti-Immigrant Laws in Georgia and Alabama

March 1, 2012 1:01 pm

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ATLANTA – The American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of civil rights groups today urged a federal appeals court to block key components of anti-immigration laws in Georgia and Alabama they said endanger public safety and invite racial profiling.

A panel of three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit was told that the laws, Georgia’s HB 87 and Alabama’s HB 56, also interfere with federal law that controls immigration law enforcement.

“The Alabama and Georgia anti-immigrant laws have created a police state where citizens and immigrants alike are subject to inquisitions during traffic stops, and state employees and ordinary people are asked to view their neighbors with suspicion,” said Cecillia Wang, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, who presented arguments in the Alabama case. “The U.S. Constitution does not tolerate such intrusions on our liberty.”

Omar Jadwat, senior staff attorney with the Immigrants’ Rights Project, argued against the Georgia law before the panel.

The two cases represent the first civil rights challenges to pernicious anti-immigrant legislation to reach the Eleventh Circuit. A coalition of civil rights groups asked the court to leave in place an injunction against major provisions of the Georgia law, and to halt implementation of the worst elements of the Alabama law.

Other groups in the coalition include the ACLU of Georgia, the ACLU of Alabama, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Immigration Law Center, MALDEF, the Asian American Law Center and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

In Georgia, as in Arizona, Utah, Indiana, and South Carolina, a federal district court blocked several provisions of the state’s anti-immigrant law, including one that would have authorized law enforcement officers to demand “papers” of individuals in a variety of settings, from going into effect. In Alabama, however, major components of HB 56 were allowed to take effect.

Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, said: “With all the pressing issues facing our state and our country, it is a shame that our legislature thinks that criminalizing acts of charity and neighborliness is a good use of their time. I have faith that this mean-spirited law will not remain on the books in our state.”

Until the appeals court issues a decision, the lower courts’ rulings in both cases will remain in effect.

For more information about the Alabama case, go here:

For more information about the Georgia case, go here:….

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