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Georgia appeals immigration law ruling

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens [official website] filed an appeal [text, PDF] Monday in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] seeking to overturn a recent injunction [JURIST report] of a controversial immigration law [HB 87 text]. A judge from the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia [official website] issued a preliminary injunction for the plaintiffs—the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) [advocacy websites] and other rights groups—in June. Olens contends that the lower court erred in granting the injunction because the appellees are not likely to prevail on the merits and failed to show irreparable injury and because the harm to the public outweighs the appellees' interest in blocking the law. Olens also maintains that the appellees do not have standing to challenge the law. The legislation, which was scheduled to take effect on July 1, allows law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status when questioning suspects in criminal investigations. The law also imposes fines and prison sentences of up to one year for anyone who knowingly transports illegal immigrants during the commission of a crime, and requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify [official website] system to check the immigration status of potential employees, providing that workers convicted of using fake identification to gain employment could face up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Many states have been embroiled in similar legal challenges to controversial immigration bills in recent months. Last week, the state of Arizona filed a petition for writ of certiorari [text, PDF; JURIST report] with the US Supreme Court [official website] seeking to overturn a lower court decision enjoining four provisions of Arizona's controversial immigration law [SB 1070 materials]. Earlier this month, Alabama lawmakers filed a response [text, PDF; JURIST report] to groups seeking a preliminary injunction against the controversial Alabama immigration law [HB 56 text] that expands restrictions on undocumented immigrants. The ACLU filed a class action suit in May challenging an Indiana immigration law [JURIST report] that requires individuals to provide proof of their legal status at all times and calls for all public meetings, websites and documents to be in English only. Also in May, the ACLU and other groups filed a class action suit against a Utah immigration law [JURIST report] that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for an alleged felony or serious misdemeanor. Federal judges have enjoined the Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah laws [JURIST reports].

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