Musings on Immigration

Our Globally Recognized Team of Immigration Lawyers Sharing Knowledge and Providing Counsel on Immigration Issues that Affect You, Your Business and Your Family

Newt Gingrich's Immigration Plan -- Rhetoric Is No Plan At All


Newt Gingrich introduced a unique concept into the Republican primary debate—an attempt at a quasi-rational approach to fixing our broken immigration system.  While Newt has received mostly derisive comments from the Right, focused almost exclusively on calling his idea an “amnesty” plan, the reality of his plan is very different.  It is NOT an amnesty plan.  But more importantly for those who understand the urgent need, Newt’s plan will NOT fix our broken immigration system. 

Start with the obvious, there must be willing participants in Congress to work with any president to solve a problem of this magnitude.  As Newt himself has pointed out, both President Bush and President Obama have tried a “comprehensive” approach to immigration reform, and failed miserably.  In today’s Congress, with a large contingent of elected representatives who view any law that in any way assists an immigrant as “amnesty,” Newt’s plan is dead on arrival.  A recent “piecemeal” bill that passed the Republican controlled House, is held up in the Senate by one Republican Senator!  This unfortunate anti-immigrant attitude persists despite recent (and long standing) polls showing large majorities of voters from both political parties favoring an immigration reform plan that allows for earned legalization.

Newt’s ten point plan is long on the big picture but short on solving the biggest problems of all – securing our future with the right types and mix of immigrants and what to do with all the people in the US without legal papers.

Newt’s plan starts where all immigration reform plans must start—on the border.  But Newt fails to recognize the fact that the borders are far more secure today than they have ever been, and that they are getting more secure each day.  In 2011, the Border Patrol recorded the lowest number of people detained at the southern border since 1974 when Nixon was President, and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported more people than ever before.  In fact, President Obama can lay claim to being the “Deportation President” because he will have deported more people in his four year term office than any President in modern times.   Fences, patrols, UAVs and electronics will not keep everyone out.  A rational, legal way into the United States is what really stops illegal immigration at the border.

Newt speaks of our needs for a “21st Century Visa Program,” as if it is something out of Six Sigma lecture, eliminating “inefficiencies” in order to attract the best and the brightest to come to and remain in America.   Here is the sad news, even in our current broken system we are attracting the best people, the problem is that we are quickly losing them when they realize that our legal immigration system (the so-called “line”) has waits of up to 15 years for workers to get permanent residence through employment, and wait times exceeding 25 years for family immigration.   The answer is simple, and yet is ignored by Newt -- increase the numbers of legal immigrants that come to the US in legal categories to meet not only demand, but our needs.

And yet, the biggest flaw in Newt’s plan is not his proposed guest worker program run by American Express (really), but rather his “path to legality” for “millions” of people who are in the United States without legal status.  Newt proposes that only people here 20-25 years could apply for his program. Bad news Newt—President Reagan’s “amnesty” program was 25 years ago, the numbers affected by your original proposal would be only a very small portion of those that are unlawfully present. A more rational approach would be 10 years, which would cover more than 63% of all illegal immigrants.  Newt also proposes the idea that local “immigration boards” would meet regularly to determine whether an immigrant could stay in the US.  Can you imagine thousands of these boards around the country and the extraordinary inconsistency of their rulings?  It would be like, well, the draft boards from the 1960s that Newt compared them to, where certain people got favors because of who they knew or who their family was, while others were sent to the front lines in Vietnam.

The bottom line is this—Kudos to Newt for having the courage to buck the current (although only recent) Republican orthodoxy of “attrition through enforcement,” favored by the anti-immigration lobbyists on Capitol Hill.  But Newt needs to be honest with people.  His plan has zero chance of passing Congress, does not effectively deal with our future need for immigrants, does not address a real resolution to a temporary worker program, and certainly does not deal with a majority of the 11 million people in the United States without lawful status.   Newt’s plan is getting us no closer to solving this real national problem than the failed policies of President Obama.

Seven Reasons Why the Georgia Legislature Should Repeal HB-87

Recently the Alabama Attorney General called on the Alabama State Legislature to repeal parts of Alabama's horrid anti-immigration law (HB 56), because of the "unintended" consequences of the bill (frankly, what happened was not unintended). Because of the similarity between the two laws, Georgia's Speaker of the House, David Ralston was asked whether Georgia Legislature would repeal part or all of HB 87, Georgia own anti-immigration law. HB 87 has caused almost a half a billion dollars in damage to the Georgia economy (along with untold suffering in Georgia's immigrant communities) without any noted or reported positive effect.

Speaker Ralston plainly stated that the Georgia Legislature would NOT do anything to repeal HB87. While it understandable why a politician would not admit that a pet bill he shepherded and pushed through the state legislature was simply bad law, it is also clear that Speaker Ralston is facing a challenge on his RIGHT in the upcoming elections. To admit that he wanted HB87 repealed in whole or in part because of the tremendous negative effects on the Georgia economy would significantly strengthen his own Tea Party challenger.

We know why Speaker Ralston will not move to repeal HB 87 bill through the legislature, but here is here is why Republicans in the Georgia state legislature need to repeal HB 87:

1. The Federal District Court in Georgia has already said that two key provisions in the bill, Sections 7 (transporting/harboring), and Section 8 (show me your papers) are preempted by federal law and thus unconstitutional. Attorneys familiar with the law are in agreement (except for the attorney general) that the 11th Circuit will uphold the District Court. The staying of these two provisions (the only significant provisions of HB 87 apart from the unfounded mandates to state political entities on SAVE, and mandatory E-Verify for employers with more than 10 employees on January 1 each year), caused most undocumented immigrants to remain in Georgia, but to go deeper "underground."

2. The Supreme Court has decided to hear the case involving the anti-immigration laws in Arizona, laws which are remarkably similar to Georgia's HB 87. Decades of Supreme Court precedent support an upholding of the Court of Appeals decision striking down the key parts of the Arizona law. Acting now, before the Supreme Court orders the law stricken shows Georgia as a national leader in ensuring that the laws it enacts are constitutional and just.

2. Secure Communities, the Obama administration's much maligned enforcement tool is in effect in ALL Georgia counties, which means that anyone arrested by Georgia law enforcement has an ICE hold placed upon them if they are wanted for immigration violations by ICE. This tool, more than anything the state legislature did, has more impact on the day to day lives of foreign nationals in Georgia.

3. Georgia's farm crops, from its blackberries and blueberries to tomatoes and onions have rotted in the fields because migrant farm workers bypassed the state upon passage of HB 87. Losses have so far totaled more than $390 million in the agricultural sector alone. We can expect similar losses this year, unless growers change what they plant to less labor intensive (and thus less lucrative) crops, reducing the overall tax base for taxes paid into state coffers.

4. HB 87 has caused massive labor shortages not only in the agricultural sector, but in the restaurant sector, with expected losses to total more than $1 billion dollars. Service employees are difficult to find and even more difficult to keep among the native born population. What do you tell the restaurant or hotel owner who cannot find prep cooks, dishwashers, maids and servers? Close your restaurant or hotel?

5. Economic Development efforts are ongoing in Georgia to attract foreign investment and to create jobs in our state. Georgia is LAST or near last in job creation during Governor Deals first year in office. HB 87 does nothing to attract business, and as Alabama has learned, passing strong anti-immigration laws does wonders for driving foreign investment away. On the other hand, repealing HB 87 will send a STRONG message that Georgia is open for business and will do nothing to take away from the aggressive enforcement of our immigration laws currently being undertaken by the Obama Administration.

6. The argument used by supporters of HB 87, that the federal government is not enforcing the immigration laws, is a lie. The Obama Administration can be better called the Deportation Administration. Never before have so many undocumented immigrants been deported in so short a time! Not in 40 years have so few undocumented immigrant come into the United States. Strong border enforcement, Secure Communities, and a focus on immigrants (legal and undocumented) with criminal violations have led to a lessening of undocumented immigration in the United States. Nothing about HB 87 has led to a lessening of undocumented immigration in the United States.

7. HB 87 was completely unfunded. Every statute, every regulation arising out of each statute, every requirement for counties and cities to carry out was unfunded. Every supposed benefit promised to law enforcement for compliance with HB 87 was unfunded. The leadership in the Legislature talks about unfunded mandates from the federal government. HB 87 is an unfunded mandate to the political subdivisions of Georgia, and is costing those cities and counties hundreds of thousands of dollars to comply, with no visible or tangible result. Prior to its passage, and since its passage, no state legislator has been able to point to ANY money saved because of HB 87. The only evidence that exists for HB 87 is that it is costing the citizens of Georgia tax dollars with no evident benefit.

These seven reasons for repealing HB 87 all involve legalities and facts. There is another reason to repeal HB 87 -- It is the right thing to do. HB 87 has destroyed Georgia families, hurt Georgia business, torn apart Georgia communities, and caused an intense fear of law enforcement for all immigrants in Georgia, regardless of their immigration status. Some have argued that the real purpose of HB 87 was to scare people into leaving the state. The reality is that after the District Court judge stayed Sections 7 and 8, immigrants stopped leaving Georgia. Now it is time to say that immigration enforcement is the federal government's job, and Georgia is going to let the federal government do it. Let's bring some forward thinking to the immigration debate, starting with a repeal of HB 87.



What You Should do to Prepare Yourself if You Are Arrested by ICE or Deported

If you are in the United States without proper immigration papers, it is important that you prepare for the possibility, particularly in today's environment, that you will be arrested by ICE and deported from the United States. You SHOULD MAKE A PLAN NOW for what you would like to have happen to your children and your property in case you are arrested or deported. You do this by completing a "Power of Attorney" form. In doing so you are designating someone to be your agent and giving them power of attorney over everything you own. This can be a scary thing. You must pick someone you trust, particularly because their powers become effective the moment you sign the power of attorney form. That means that they can go into your bank accounts and sell whatever property you have here in the United States. (You can offset this by keeping the documents locked in your house and tell your agent where the forms are once you are arrested. You can also give it to your attorney for safe keeping.)

You must also make a plan and give your agent a lot of guidance when it comes to exactly what you would want to happen to your children and property. Give them a list of emergency contacts. Make sure that the agent knows who their pediatricians, baby-sitters and teachers are. You should talk to your agent about filing the documents with your local county Registrar. In most states that is the sure fire way to make sure that your agent’s powers are recognized with schools and banks.
Planning for an arrest or deportation can be like planning for an “immigration funeral.” And like a funeral lot of people don’t want to think about the fact that it could possibly happen. But those who do plan ahead can have exactly what they want happen to their children, property and money that they have worked so hard for during their time here in the United States. It’s worth spending the few hours filling out all the forms.

If you ever need help on doing this necessary task, contact the attorneys at Kuck Immigration Partners for assistance.

The Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board

Section 20, of Georgia's HB 87, created the "Immigration Enforcement Review Board" (IERB) The creation of the IERB was a surprise addition to HB 87 in its last substitution in the House, and never had a public hearing. There is no legislative history about the IERB's purpose, although it is now clear from Rep. Matt Ramsey's statements to the press that it was the Association of City and County Governments (ACCG) that pushed for the IERB, in lieu of the even crazier idea of letting private citizens sue state officials.

The PURPOSE of the IERB

The primary purpose of the IERB, which is now filled by seven white men with virtually no experience in immigration law and is attached to the Department of Audits and Accounting, is to:

(1) Conduct a review or investigation of any complaint properly filed with the Board;
(2) take such remedial action deemed appropriate in response to complaints filed with the Board, including holding hearings and considering evidence;
(3) make and adopt rules and regulation consistent with the provisions of this Code section; and
(4) subpoena relevant documents and witnesses and to place witnesses under oath for the provision of testimony in matters before the board.


What the IERB Can Enforce

All of these duties are appropriately vague considering the actual authority of the Board. Here is what the Board has authority to do:

Investigate and review any complaint with respect to all action of a public agency or employee alleged to have violated or failed to properly enforce the provisions of Code Section 13-10-91 (State E-Verify usage), 36-80-23 (Sanctuary Policies), or 50-36-1 (Public Benefits) with which such public agency or employee was required to comply.


Who can FILE Complaints with the IERB

Only registered voters can bring complaints to the IERB. This little nugget may violate not only the due process clause of the state constitution, and possibly the Voting Rights Act, but all the federal Constitution's right of citizens (not just registered voters) to seek redress and petition the government. This provision has NOT been challenged in Court, but certainly will be at some point in the future.

What Can The IERB DO and to WHOM Can it DO IT?

What is remarkable with the IERB can ONLY deal with the three limited areas of Georgia law (state entity use of E-Verfiy, state entity sanctuary policies, and state entity use of the SAVE system) as it pertains to public employees. No private employers, employees, or individuals are subject to investigation by the IERB.

Further, and more problematic, the IERB does NOT have to act as a Board. One member can carry out ALL of its duties AND impose sanctions!! The sanctions that the IERB can levy include revocation of qualified local government status, loss of state appropriated funds, or a monetary fine of up to $5,000. The standard of proof used for a "conviction" by this Board is a preponderance of the evidence. The Attorney General is the club used by this Board to enforce its decisions and sanctions in Court, should the employee not comply.

What the IERB is NOT


The IERB is NOT a witch hunting panel of anti-immigrants going after private citizens and businesses who violate HB 87. So, regular folks (e.g., non-goverment employees) have not need to fear (yet). BUT, if you are a government employee--watch out!

What the IERB IS

The IERB is a RADICAL privatization of government power, and the constitutionality of this provision is suspect. After all we are talking about giving to a Board of private citizens the power to take away the "city" status of a municipality. Frankly, it is insane that this provision is in this anti-immigration bill. It has nothing to do with immigration, and everything to do with pleasing a particular constituency. Ultimately, the courts will decide the constitutionality of this Section.

The Obama Amnesty--NOT!!

From my friends at www.stopnotariofraud.org.

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S IMMIGRATION ANNOUNCEMENT IS NOT AN AMNESTY. IT DOES NOT GRANT LEGAL STATUS OR WORK PERMITS. IT IS NOT SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN SIGN-UP FOR! THERE IS NO “SAFE” WAY TO TURN YOURSELF IN TO IMMIGRATION AUTHORITIES. CONSULT AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY ABOUT YOUR IMMIGRATION CASE OR STATUS.

STOP NOTARIO FRAUD

Don’t become a victim of dishonest immigration consultants often known as “notarios.” Immigration consultants, notary publics, and notarios cannot represent you in the immigration process. These people—especially notarios—prey on immigrants, often from the same ethnic community as the notarios themselves.

NOTARIOS WILL TAKE YOUR MONEY AND YOUR DREAMS!

Many noncitizens find out that they will never get their green card or other immigration benefits because an unqualified immigration consultant or notario unlawfully working as an immigration lawyer destroyed their dreams.

PROTECT YOUR FAMILY’S DREAMS

To avoid fraud, use your common sense. Many people hear what they want to hear—be smart! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t believe it if someone tells you about a secret new immigration law or claims to have connections or special influence with any government office or agency. Follow these simple guidelines.

Take action to get help and stop the notario from harming others!

If you have been harmed by a notario or an immigration consultant, you can take action that may help you and stop the person from harming others.

WE WANT TO HELP!

The resources on this website are meant to:

  • Help prevent immigrants from being victimized by notarios
  • Provide resources for victims of notarios
  • Provide information and resources for attorneys working with victims to remedy crimes committed by fraudulent consultants unlawfully practicing immigration law
  • Help immigrants find competent and affordable legal service providers

Many Undocumented Immigrants Without Criminal Records Facing Deportation Will Stay In U.S.

According to the Huffington Post, the Obama administration said it will allow many illegal immigrants facing deportation the chance to stay in this country and apply for a work permit, while focusing on removing from the U.S. convicted criminals and those who might be a national security or public safety threat.

That will mean a case-by-case review of approximately 300,000 illegal immigrants facing possible deportation in federal immigration courts, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in announcing the policy change.

Advocates for an immigration overhaul have said that the administration, by placing all illegal immigrants in the same category for deportation, has failed to live up to its promise to only deport the "worst of the worst," as President Barack Obama has said.

"From a law enforcement and public safety perspective, DHS enforcement resources must continue to be focused on our highest priorities," Napolitano wrote a group of senators supporting new immigration legislation. "Doing otherwise hinders our public safety mission – clogging immigration court dockets and diverting DHS enforcement resources away from the individuals who pose a threat to public safety."

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter.

Some states are rebelling against another administration effort to control illegal immigration known as Secure Communities. The program requires that when state and local law enforcement send criminal suspects' fingerprints to the FBI, the prints are run through an immigration database to determine the person's immigration status. States have argued that the program puts them in the position of policing immigration, which they consider a federal responsibility. Immigrant advocacy groups have complained that people who had not yet been convicted of a crime were being caught up in the system.

In June, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, John Morton, sent a memo to agents outlining when and how they could use discretion in immigration cases. That guidance also covered those potentially subject to a legislative proposal, known as the DREAM Act, intended to give young illegal immigrants who go to college or serve in the military a chance at legal status.

Morton also suggested that agents consider how long someone has been in the United State, whether that person's spouse or children are U.S. citizens and whether that person has a criminal record.

A senior administration official said delaying deportation decisions in cases for some non-criminals would allow quicker deportation of serious criminals. The indefinite stay will not give illegal immigrants a path to legal permanent residency, but will let them apply for a work permit.

"As a matter of law, they are eligible for a work authorization card, basically a taxpayer ID card, but that decision is made separately and on a case-by-case basis," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discussed the change publicly.

The official said the change will give authorities the chance to keep some cases from even reaching the court system. The message to agents in the field, the official said, would be "you do not need to put everyone you come across in the system."

If an immigrant whose case has been stayed commits a crime or other circumstances change, their case could be reopened.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., a longtime supporter of immigration overhaul and the DREAM Act, applauded the policy change.

"These students are the future doctors, lawyers, teachers and, maybe, senators, who will make America stronger," Durbin said in an emailed statement. "We need to be doing all we can to keep these talented, dedicated, American students here, not wasting increasingly precious resources sending them away to countries they barely remember."

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said the Obama administration was implementing reforms "against the will of Congress and the majority of American people we represent."

"It is just the latest attempt by this president to bypass the intended legislative process when he does not get his way," McCaul said in a statement. "The fact that we have a backlog and prioritize deportations is nothing new. This policy goes a step further granting illegal immigrants a fast-track to gaining a work permit where they will now unfairly compete with more than 9 percent of Americans who are still looking for jobs."

Other Republicans have previously criticized the DREAM Act and other immigration legislation that would provide a path to legal status as amnesty. Following Morton's June memo, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, introduced a bill to block the administration's use of prosecutorial discretion and called the use of that discretion "backdoor amnesty."

Thank you President Obama and Senator Durbin for embracing the concept that the United States is truly a nation of immigrants. This policy will allow the government to decide who gets to stay in the United States based on their actions and not based on the arbitrariness of our broken immigration system.

Georgia's Secure Document List--So What.

The Georgia Attorney General just issued his Secure and Verifiable Document List, as required under HB-87, Georgia's Anti-Immigration Law. This list brings to mind the First Rule you need to know when a State passes an Anti-Immigration law. That rule is summarized in one word--"meaningless." That's right. The List, as written, is meaningless. The List changes NOTHING about Georgia law and how people can use documents in Georgia.

The main reason that Rep. Matt Ramsey wanted this part of HB 87 in place was to stop the use by Mexicans of a document known as a "Matricula Consular." The Matricula Consular is a secure document, issued after a lengthy process of identification verification by the Mexican Consulate. It is certainly as secure as a Georgia Driver's license. But, since it gave the impression, apparently, to Rep. Ramsey that people were using a Mexican ID documents to apply for benefits in the U.S. for their US Citizen children, he wanted it done away with, in the mistaken belief that by doing so, perhaps these U.S. Citizen children could be deprived of the benefits they were eligible for. Unfortunately, for Rep. Ramsey he did not do his homework before writing this provision, as Federal Law permits the use of a Matricula Consular and related foreign documents to verify identity for applications for certain purposes. Neither HB 87, nor the List can change that. So, a state law was never going to be permitted to stand that disallowed what the Federal Government permitted.

The Attorney General clearly realized the problem. This is no where more evident than in the last paragraph of The List, which states:


In addition to the documents listed herein, if, in administering a public benefit or program, an agency is required by federal law to accept a document for proof of or documentation of identity, that document will be deemed a secure and verifiable document solely for that particular program or administration of that particular public benefit.

So, the Matricula Consular, as I have been saying for months, is still usable to apply for Federal Benefits for U.S. Citizen Children, even benefits administered by the State of Georgia,as permitted by federal law!

Also interesting in the Attorney General's list is the inclusion on the List of a Canadian Driver's license, as well as the drivers licenses of ALL 50 states! So much for not recognizing the licenses of Washington and New Mexico.

What the Attorney General failed to include were the dozens of variations of documents issued by USCIS to verify a person's immigration status and identification. We cannot expect the Attorney General of Georgia to be an immigration expert, but it is surprising that there was no attempt made to try to bring into the List, secure and verifiable immigration documents carried as the sole source of identification by thousands of people living in Georgia!

There must be much weeping and wailing of those anti-immigrants who wanted a limited List. the current List fails to effectively change anything about Georgia law. This List coupled with Judge Thrash's order stopping the most egregious sections of HB 87 from being enforced means that Georgia law is effectively not changed as it pertains to people's immigration status. HB 87 continues its march toward the dust heap of history as yet another bill passed by a state more concerned about the social effects of new immigrants rather than compliance with actual federal law.

Finally, let's note that the Attorney General also turned out his "Report on Public Benefits" a lengthy tome that details all the public benefits available in Georgia to U.S. citizens and
qualified aliens". Most of us who are conservatives will say WOW, I had no idea that so many programs existed, there is one thing lacking in this report. There is no indication that anyone who was not entitled any of these benefits actually got the benefit. No evidence that a person who is not a U.S. Citizen or qualified alien received benefits only intended for U.S. citizens and qualified aliens. Makes you wonder why, if there was no evidence of abuse of "public benefits" by non-qualified aliens, this law and report was even necessary.

The Oral Argument on HB 87

The Plaintiffs' litigation team, of which I am proud to be a part, just left oral argument in front of Judge Thrash. Omar Jadwat and Karen Tumlin both did a terrific job in their arguments on the constitutional issues and the severe harm that will befall immigrants, US citizens and permanent residents if HB 87 is allowed to go into effect.

Judge Thrash had numerous questions for the government lawyer, who argued, incorrectly that if all these undocumented people wanted to, they could just fix their status and become legal. The most honest thing the government attorney said, after repeat questioning by the Judge, was that US citizens who drive around their parents who are undocumented, and take them to the sore for groceries, and while doing so commit a traffic offense absolutely face arrest and jail for transporting and harboring. In fact, the government attorney compared such an activity (helping your mom get groceries) is just like cocaine possession. When she said this an audible gasp was heard across the courtroom. The government attorney also mischaracterized federal law and its similarity to provisions of HB 87, but failed to either recognize or acknowledge the plain fact that immigration is a federal issue in which the states have been invited to participate only in limited fashion, and that HB 87 fair exceeds this authority.

The government attorney also tried to justify HB 87 by saying that the law protects undocumented immigrants! Yes, she really said that! She then went on to say that the law is justified by all the costs created by undocumented immigrants in Georgia. However, she failed to note that there was no fiscal note in this bill and thus we have no idea how much money this bill either saves OR costs the state of Georgia. This irresponsible inaction on the part of the Georgia state legislature allows people like the government lawyer to use made up numbers from anti-immigration groups to justify state action, when the reality is much different. Immigrants, both documented and undocumented provide a net positive contribution to the economy of Georgia. It was clear that her economic arguments made no impact on the judge, as they should not have as they had nothing to do with the reason for HB 87.

Finally, the judge repeatedly asked the state' s attorney what the purpose of the law was. She responsed with arguments about economics, crime, healthcare, and even the aforementioned protection of undoumented immigrants. But, the judge was simmply not buyng it, and said, twice, "are you really telling me the the purpose of this law is to help undocumented immigrants? In noted exasperation, he finally said, "counsel, move on, you are not answering my question"!

The only question the judge had for Omar was "where is the federal government?" Good question! Where was the Federal Government? Someone should ask Eric Holder where he was.

At the end of the the argument, which lasted about 90 minutes, Judge Thrash said that he would not be ruling from the bench but that he would likely rule by July 1, 2011, the effective date of the law. I expect a ruling shortly before that date. No one knows, other than Judge Thrash, how he is going to rule. But I remain confident, and repeat what I have been saying since January when the state legislature first took this law up: the law is unconstitutional and I believe an injunction will be granted.

Oral Argument on HB87

In the courtroom. Counsel table for plaintiffs is full with 6 attorneys all prepared to argue the various aspects of the motion. Three government counsel from The state attorney General's office are also here to argue their case. Judge Thrash had said in an earlier status conference that he was "known to rule from the bench" so hopefully he will do so today in favor of the Plaintiffs.

Karen Tumlin and Omar Jadwat are the lead attorneys on oral argument for the plaintiffs. We expect to start the arguments at 10 am.

No blogging allowed so I will report back in after the hearing!

HB 87- The Preliminary Injunction Hearing

Today Federal District Court Judge Thrash will hear both OUR request for a Preliminary Injunction to temporarily stop HB 87 from going into effect (or at least parts of it), AND the State of Georgia's Motion to Dismiss parts of the cas, and some of the Defendants. I plan on live blogging the oral arguments and decision of the Judge, if permitted. If not, I will post immediately after the hearing.

The reasons for granting the preliminary injunction are simple, but the standard is quite high, so there are no guarantees that it will be granted. The arguments by the government for their Motion to Dismiss are without any legal merit, but they were obligated to make the attempt. Ultimately the fate hundreds of thousands of people rests in the hands of Judge Thrash, a Clinton appointee who has been known to rule from the bench, and is someone who is bold enough to stand up to the Georgia State Legislature and say "no, you cannot violate the Constitution!"

More to follow.

U.S. Warns Schools Against Checking Immigration Status

U.S. Warns Schools Against Checking Immigration Status

By KIRK SEMPLE

Federal officials issued a memorandum to the nation’s school districts on Friday saying it was against the law for education officials to seek information that might reveal the immigration status of children applying for enrollment.

Civil liberties advocates and others have complained in recent months that many school districts are seeking children’s immigration papers as a prerequisite for enrollment. Some state and local officials have also considered bills to require prospective students to reveal their citizenship or immigration status.

“We have become aware of student enrollment practices that may chill or discourage the participation, or lead to the exclusion, of students based on their or their parents’ or guardians’ actual or perceived citizenship or immigration status,” said the memo, from Justice and Education Department officials. “These practices contravene federal law.”

The letter cited a 1982 Supreme Court decision that recognized the right of all children, regardless of immigration status, to attend public school as long as they met the age and residency requirements set by state law.

“The undocumented or noncitizen status of a student (or his or her parent or guardian) is irrelevant to that student’s entitlement to an elementary and secondary public school education,” said the memo, signed by Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division of the Justice Department; Russlynn H. Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights in the Education Department; and Charles P. Rose, that department’s general counsel.

Xochitl Hinojosa, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said it was the first time her agency had issued guidance to school districts on the 1982 decision. The Education Department did not return calls seeking comment.

Civil liberties advocates, who had been asking President Obama’s administration to clarify the law, hailed the memo. “We’re gratified that the Department of Justice has seen fit to do the right thing, to clarify any ambiguities,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, calling the guidance “a really big deal.”

Last year, Ms. Lieberman’s group found that 139 districts in New York State — about 20 percent of the total — were requiring children’s immigration papers as a prerequisite to enrollment, or asking parents for information that only lawful immigrants could provide.

While the group did not find any cases in which children had been turned away for lack of immigration paperwork, it warned that the requirements could deter illegal immigrant families from enrolling children for fear that their status might be reported to federal authorities.

After months of pressure from the civil liberties group, the state’s Education Departmentsent school districts a memo strongly recommending that they not ask for information that might reveal the immigration status of enrolling students. State education officials in Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois and Nebraska have taken steps in recent years to halt similar practices, immigrant advocates said.

Despite the New York memo, some school districts there continued to press for the right to ask about immigration status, said Udi Ofer, advocacy director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. In Arizona, state lawmakers have considered a bill that would require the state’s Education Department to determine the number of public school students who are unable to prove lawful presence in the United States, officials said. Last year, a legislative committee in Oklahoma favored a bill to require public schools to determine, at the time of enrollment, whether a child was born outside the United States

What HB 87 Means for You, Your Business and for Georgia (and it's not good)

The dust has settled and it appears clear that Governor Deal will sign HB 87. We are now left with the detritus of Rep. Matt Ramsey's "work" on the most anti-immigration bill passed by a state legislature in modern times. The question everyone is asking is "what does this mean for me?"

Let's take a look at what the individual sections mean for the people, businesses and the economy of Georgia.

As we prepare to bring litigation in Federal Court, the starting point for that litigation and the starting point for anyone who looks at this bill must be the title of the bill. It is called the "Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011." HB 87 then says that this bill contains the following actions:


Provides penalties for the failure of a public employer to utilize E-Verify;

Requires certain private employers to utilize E-Verify;

Provides for the offense of aggravated identity fraud;

Provides for the investigation of "illegal alien" status;

Provides authority for law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws, and provides them immunity for doing so;

Provides for training (unfunded) for peace officers for enforcement of immigration laws;

Requires proof that private businesses are participating in E-Verify system prior to issuance of a business license;

Provides for the verification of the immigration status of foreign nationals arrested and held in county or municipal jails;

Gives authority to local authorities to enter into 287(g) agreement;

Penalties agency heads for failure to abide by certain state "immigration laws"; and

Establishes the "Immigration Enforcement Review Board."

That is a lot more than what most people think this bill did, but oddly, also a lot less. HB 87 is expansive, all-encompassing, violates the Constitution in a variety of ways, and parts of it will certainly be the law in Georgia in perpetuity. And the same time, it really does nothing to stop illegal immigration.

What does the bill do?

SECTION 2 -- Some Definitions

Section 2 of HB 87 has added definitions of the word "Contractor" and "Sub-subcontractor" to the section of state law that requires E-Verify usages by state contractors. The purpose of these added definitions is made clear in Section 3, which section includes the existing burden for local governments to post to their website each year their respective E-Verify user number, or now if they do not have a website (really?) to give that information to the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia for it to post each year.

Section 3 -- E-Verify, Government and Public Contractors

Section 3 adds additional compliance work to that now required for local governments to ensure not only that public contractors are enrolled in E-Verify, but that any subcontractors, or sub-subcontractors are also enrolled in E-Verify, or if they are individuals, that their driver's license or state issued ID card be given as proof of compliance with this requirement (there is a bizarre and illegal exception to this rule which I will explain below). Under Section 3 there is the additional burden that contractors under this section provide all the required affidavits, driver's licenses and ID cards to the local government within five days of receipt. The form of affidavit to be used will be created by the Department of Audits by August 1, 2011 (even though this law is effective on July 1, 2011), for used by public contractors. Then, as if this was not enough, the local government must, by December 31 of each year, submit a compliance report to the state auditor certifying compliance with the provisions of these new sections. The State Audit Department (subject to available funding--of which there is none), is supposed to conduct annual compliance audits on 50% of the reporting agencies and publish the results of these audits by September 30 of each year. Don't hold your breath waiting for these reports!

There are, of course, the obligatory penalties for failure to comply with these new requirements, the most onerous of which is if a local government/agency fails to comply with these requirements twice in any five year period, their funding will be cut by 10% automatically for the next year (the formula described in the statute is more complex, but the basic math is correct.)

Section 3 also rains down penalties on all contractors, subcontractors, and sub-subcontractors for not properly complying with these new requirements, including the preclusion of bidding on state and local government contracts for 12 months.

Simply put, Section 3 has added a significant new burden to state agencies and local governments to ensure compliance with existing E-Verify rules, and places additional expenses and compliance requirements on government contractors. All of these new requirements will come at additional expense to the taxpayers of Georgia, but unfortunately we do not know at what exact cost, because the Georgia Legislature ignored its on rules (e.g. it did not follow the "Rule of Law") as it pertained to a Fiscal Note on this bill. But rest assured, you are going to be charged more for the work done for the state and local government by private contractors.

Sections 4, 5 and 6 -- Going to Jail for Feeding your Family

This new crime reminds me so much of the play Les Miserables, where Jean Valjean is sentenced to years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving child. A variation of this new crime was in the Arizona bill and was found unconstitutional. But his new crime is one step farther than the Arizona law, thus making HB 87 even more onerous than SB 1070 from Arizona. Simply put, if you use a fake id (of a fake, dead, or real person), in order to "obtain employment," you will be guilty of "aggravated identity fraud" and will be sentenced to state prison for up to 15 years and face up to a $250,000 fine. Don't rub your eyes. I told you about this in previous blogs. Heck , in Georgia, you only go to jail for 5 years for having sex with a 16 year old, or just less time for human trafficking! Ignoring the blatant fact that the punishment does not fit the crime, and thus would likely violate the 8th Amendment pertaining to cruel and unusual punishment, this section is also preempted by federal law. Let me explain.

The Immigration and Reform and Control Act of 1986, otherwise known as IRCA, not only granted amnesty to 2.7 million people and created the entire employer compliance scheme, but it also did one very important thing. It created federal control of employment of foreign nationals in the United States. This means that ONLY the Federal Government can legislate in the control AND punishment of aliens working in the United States. As the 9th Circuit noted in USA v. Arizona:

The text of the relevant IRCA statutory provision—8 U.S.C. § 1324a—also supports this conclusion. Section 1324a establishes a complex scheme to discourage the employment of unauthorized immigrants—primarily by penalizing employers who knowingly or negligently hire them. The statute creates a system through which employers are obligated to verify work authorization. 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(b). The verification process includes a requirement that potential employees officially attest that they are authorized to work. 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(b)(2). The statute provides that the forms potential employees use to make this attestation “may not be used for purposes other than for enforcement of this chapter and” 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001, 1028, 1546 and 1621. 8 U.S.C. § 1324a(b)(5). These sections of Title 18 criminalize knowingly making a fraudulent statement or writing; knowingly making or using a false or stolen identification document; forging or falsifying an immigration document; and committing perjury by knowingly making a false statement after taking an oath in a document or proceeding to tell the truth. This is the exclusive punitive provision against unauthorized workers in 8 U.S.C § 1324a. All other penalties in the scheme are exacted on employers, reflecting Congress’ choice to exert the vast majority of pressure on the employer side.

. . .

In addition, other provisions in 8 U.S.C. § 1324a provide affirmative protections to unauthorized workers, demonstrating that Congress did not intend to permit the criminalization of work.

Quite clearly, the Federal Government controls this area of the law. When the litigation is brought challenging this section, it appears likely that this new "crime" of feeding your family by working with fake papers will be struck down as preempted by federal law, if not found unconstitutional under the 8th Amendment.

Section 7 -- Transporting, Harboring and Inducing (and Some Hearsay Added for Flavor)

What can you say here, but Wow! Did anyone actually read this section before it was passed into law? Much was made last year about the fact that many Congressman and Senators did not read the Healthcare legislation before it was passed. My question is did ANYONE read HB 87 before it was passed? If so, they were not paying attention.

This will get a little strange so follow me here. HB 87 purports to makes it a crime (first a misdemeanor and then a felony) for any person to give a ride to an "illegal alien" or to give aid or help to an "illegal alien," or to "induce" an "illegal alien" to come to Georgia (even if he is your brother in law). Let's look at the actual language of the statute. Section 7 first defines what an "illegal alien" is. This definition is necessary because it does not exist anywhere else. There is no definition of the words "illegal alien" in federal law, and in fact those words are only used two times in the entire 500 or more pages of the Immigration & Nationality Act. Also, if you remember in a previous blog I pointed out that the first definition that Rep. Matt Ramsey had come up with for "illegal alien" likely included every person in America! The new definition is as follows:

"Illegal alien" means a person who is verified by the federal government to be present in the United States in violation of federal immigration law.

The crime for transporting (which is essentially the same in wording as that for harboring and inducing) reads as follows:

A person who is acting in violation of another criminal offense [a traffic violation in Georgia is a criminal offense], who knowingly and intentionally transports or moves an illegal alien in a motor vehicle for the purpose of furthering the illegal presence of the alien in the United States shall be guilty of the offense of transporting or moving an illegal alien.

Ignore the fact that HB 87 does not define "furthering the illegal presence" for a minute. Read the definition of the term "illegal alien" INTO the statute. Did you do that? If you read it as written, which is exactly what you have to do in order to be convicted under this statute, the only way to actually be convicted of this crime is if you, the person driving the motor vehicle, have received verification from the federal government that the person you are moving or transporting is present in the U.S. in violation of federal immigration law!!!! It does not matter if the person who is undocumented told you he was out of status or "illegal." It does not matter if you should have known he was illegal. The prosecutor will actually have to show that you had federal government verification of that fact! Do you know what that means? No one can be convicted under this statute!

The same rational applies to the harboring provisions, but actually goes a step further. Under the harboring portion of Section 7,"harboring" is defined as:

any conduct that tends to substantially help an illegal alien to remain in the United States in violation of federal law . . .
.

Once again we are faced with a definitional problem. What does "substantially help" mean? No one knows, so how can a person actually harbor an "illegal alien?" Let's suppose that some creative judge or prosecutor comes up with a definition, and then we are faced with the problem of who can actually be convicted of a crime under this section and who cannot. Clearly, there are three groups of people who cannot be convicted of harboring:

1. a person providing services to infants, children or victims of crimes;

2. a person providing emergency medical services (hospitals, ambulance drivers, etc.), or

3. an attorney representing a criminal defendant.

There is also another type of person who presumably cannot be convicted of harboring: a person providing privately funded social services. We have no idea, however, what this last provision means. It is a social service organization that is recognized as such by the IRS? Is it one that receives NO public monies (virtually none of them), or one that receives at least a dollar of private funding? No one knows what Rep. Matt Ramsey was thinking here. And since there were no public hearings on this provision, no one will know what it means. Well, that actually is not true. We do know at least what it does NOT mean. It does not include churches. Churches are clearly NOT "privately funded social services" under any definition of those words. Churches are house of worship and organized religions that provide aide to those in need. Churches are classified differently from social service organizations under the tax code, and recognized differently under the Constitution. So a word of caution to all you religious folks out there--be careful about being a Good Samaritan, or don't and demand that the state prosecute you for doing service. After all, What Would Jesus Do?

Frankly, the harboring provisions in Section 7 are such a mess, that they are arguably in violation of the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment, the 5th amendment right to counsel (criminal defense attorneys are not defined in this statute and certainly are not the only ones involved in criminal defense), and the 1st Amendment as well. More importantly, these provisions all clearly require federal government involvement in their enforcement. Something the 9th Circuit noted in USA v. Arizona was quite unconstitutional:

[SB 1070] interferes with the federal government’s prerogative to make removability determinations and set priorities with regard to the enforcement of civil immigration laws

This is exactly what Section 7 does.

Another key issue of Section 7 is its failure to cure the problem noted previously in the blog of the new rule allowing hearsay evidence to convict someone of one of these crimes. The State Legislature has decided that is okay for the government to prove someone's immigration status by having a witness testify that a federal government agent "told" him the person was undocumented. So much for Due Process!

There, of course many other problems with Section 7 which will be highlighted in the litigation in this case. Suffice it to say for now that getting convicted under these new criminal laws is barely even a remote possibility.

Section 8 -- Show Me Your Papers, Please!

Here it is, the show me your papers please law, brought to you by the State Legislators of Georgia! A similar provision was found unconstitutional in Arizona. Here is the process now in Georgia:

During any investigation of a criminal suspect by a "peace officer" [undefined], when such officer has probably cause to believe that a suspect has committed a criminal violation [again, which includes traffic offenses in Georgia], the officer shall be authorized to seek to verify such suspects immigration status when the suspect is unable to provide one of the following:

(1) A secure and verifiable document as defined in Code Section 50-36-2 [the new Secure and Verifiable Identity Document Act that is part of HB87, Section 19]

(2) a valid Georgia's Driver's License;

(3) a valid Georgia Identification card . . . .;

(4) If the entity requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance, any valid driver's license from a state or district of the United States or any valid identification document issue by the United States federal government ;

(5) A document used in compliance with paragraph (2)9 of subsection (a) of Code Section 40-5-21 [a valid license from a person's home country]; or

(6) Other information as to the suspects identify that is sufficient to allow the peace officer to independently identify the suspect.

Helpfully, Section 8 (how appropriately named), also prohibits the officer from using race, color or national origin in enforcing this section, but, of course, does not prohibit consideration of accent or English capability, dress style, or even the type of shoes someone wears.

There are many problems with Section 8 that make it easily challenged in Federal Court. Not the least of which is that it does not cure the problem that affected the Arizona statute--the impact on the federal government. You see, it is not the WORDING of the statute that was a problem; it was the EFFECT of the statute:

In sum, we are not persuaded that Arizona has the inherent authority to enforce the civil provisions of federal immigration law. Therefore, Arizona must be federally authorized to conduct such enforcement. Congress has created a comprehensive and carefully calibrated scheme—and has authorized the Executive to promulgate extensive regulations

—for adjudicating and enforcing civil removability. S.B. 1070

Section 6 [which is similar in effect to Section 8 in HB 87] exceeds the scope of federal authorization for Arizona’s state and local officers to enforce the civil provisions of federal immigration law. Section 6 interferes with the federal government’s prerogative to make removability determinations and set priorities with regard to the enforcement of civil immigration laws. Accordingly, Section 6 stands as an obstacle to the full purposes and objectives of Congress.

The same result will befall Section 8 of HB 87. That said, there is also another reason that Section 8 will fail. It blatantly violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, when it does not recognize as valid the driver's licenses of those states that do not check for immigration status (Washington and New Mexico). U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 1. This clause requires that states within the United States have to respect the "public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state." Does Section 8 do that? The simple answer is no.

Section 9 -- Secure Communities and 287(g).

Section 9 really does nothing more than is already being done in Georgia. It is superfluous in every sense of that word. All Georgia counties will be enrolled in Secure Communities by September 30, 2012, and 287(g) is already active in at least six counties, but expansion of that program is limited by the federal government and available funding. This provision is clearly constitutional and will become law.

Section 10 -- Training for Peace Officers

This section is worse than meaningless. It provides for designation for 10 peace officers annually to be trained on federal immigration laws using federal dollars, but only if the dollars are available. What a joke. Yet, this provision is clearly constitutional and will become law.

Section 11 -- Incentive Program for Involvement in Secure Communities and 287(g)

As noted above, there is no need for an incentive to enroll in these programs. And the legislature allotted no funding for these incentives! Again, this is a joke. But, this provision is clearly constitutional and will become law.

Section 12 -- E-Verify for all Georgia Employers (Not Quite).

This section is hard to summarize without laughing. Rep. Ramsey repeatedly stated in his public comments that the most important part of HB 87 was the mandatory E-Verify component. In one public hearing he was vociferous in his defense of having every employer in Georgia of more than 5 employees enroll. But legislating is messy business, and that is not what we ended up with!

The law is relatively simple. If you are a private employer with more than 500 FULL TIME employees, you must register for E-Verify by January 1, 2012. If you have more than 100 FULL TIME employees, you must register for E-Verify by July 1, 2012, and if you have more than 10 FULL TIME employees, you must register for E-Verify by January 2, 2013.

Full time means someone works for you at least 35 hours per week. If you have 10,000 part time employees, you do NOT have to enroll in E-Verify under this law. Period.

The compliance part of this law is also relatively simple, but similarly contains a massive loophole. Every business in Georgia will be required to complete an affidavit before the county or municipal government, in regards to compliance with this law, in order to obtain or renew their business license or occupational tax certificate. At the time of signing this affidavit, the company's representative will determine the number of employees by counting the number of employees on January 1 of the year during which the affidavit is submitted. In case you did not notice, January 1 is a holiday and virtually no one works. There is nothing to prohibit an employer from laying off or reducing to part time ALL of its workers on December 31, and then restoring them to full time status on January 2. You might argue that that violates the spirit of the law, but how can you violate the spirit of a law that has no soul?

For those employers who nonetheless have the requisite number of employees as of January 1, they will be required to provide their E-Verify enrollment number as part of the affidavit process. And, if their E-Verify enrollment number has changed from the previous year, they have to explain why (e.g., we unenrolled because we had less than 10 employees for a while--entirely permissible).

Section 12, also puts an additional burden on county and municipal governments to provide to the State Department of Audits and Accounts each year a report demonstrating that the local government is in compliance with this requirement, and authorizes the Department to audit at least 20% of the local government reports each year, subject to funding (of which were was none in this bill, another joke).

Oh, one last joke on Georgia about this mandatory E-Verify program. Only FUTURE employees can be run through E-Verify. So, if someone who is undocumented is working now for an enrolled employer, their papers cannot be run through E-Verify and they will NOT lose their jobs. There is no purported job creation through this enforcement program Rep. Ramsey. Sorry to disappoint you.

This legality of a state to mandate enrollment in E-Verify is currently before the Supreme Court. Before the effective date of HB 87, we will know whether this provision is unconstitutional or not.

Section 13 -- Checking Immigration Status of Criminally Detained Persons.

This provision requires that the immigration status of all persons detained in local jails have their immigration status checked within 48 hours. Someone forgot to tell the State Legislature that this is what Secure Communities does. So, another superfluous statute. Nonetheless, this section is constitutional and will be in effect on July 1, 2011.

Section 14 -- More money for State Prisoners. Not.

This Section gives those counties who are enrolled in 287(g) an additional 10% (75 cents a day) for housing state inmates in their local jails, "subject to an appropriation of funds." Well guess what--there was no appropriation of funds!!!! Nonetheless, this section is constitutional and will be in effect on July 1, 2011.

Section 15 and 16 -- Who is an Agency Head?

These Sections add a definition for the term "Agency Head" so that such persons can be fined for violating the SAVE, E-Verify and Anti-Sanctuary policies already in place in Georgia. No one actually identified anyone who had actually violated such policies, but this provision did make D.A. King happy! This section is constitutional and will be in effect on July 1, 2011.

Section 17 -- You Want Public Benefits--Show Me Your Papers!

It is already the law in Georgia that people have to show that they are eligible for public benefits and show they are U.S. citizens or qualified foreign nationals. This Section adds the requirement that the documents presented comply with the new "Secure and Verifiable Identity Documents Act in Section 19 of HB 87. Since there are questions about the constitutionality of Section 19, this Section may also have problems going into effect (see the previous discussion on Full Faith and Credit).

Section 18 --The Agency Head is Going Down!

Section 18 provides for the penalties to the Agency Head for not complying with the verification of lawful presence in the United States requirements for receipt of government benefits provisions of Georgia law. The Attorney General is empowered to investigate such Agency Head, and collect attorney’s fees from the Agency Head if the Attorney General discovers noncompliance. This section is constitutional and will be in effect on July 1, 2011, even though it denigrates state employees.

Section 19 -- The Secure and Verifiable Identity Document Act

The state legislature here adds an entire new "Act" to the Georgia Code in an attempt to create a list of documents that must be used throughout the Georgia Code to verify identity for the variety of purposes required under the Code. The Attorney General is given until August 1, 2011 to create the list of acceptable documents under this act. The real intent of this act is to prohibit the use of the Matricula Consular, a document issued by the Mexican Consulate to provide a form of ID for Mexican nationals in the U.S. who do not have any other form of identification. The reality is that this prohibition only applies to acceptance of these ID documents by state agencies and does not apply to private businesses, such as banks or check cashing locations. Should the Attorney General choose to follow the lead of the state legislature in regards to not accepting driver's licenses from Washington and New Mexico, this section may be unconstitutional. However, as currently written it is completely legal and will go into effect on July 1, 2011.

Section 20 -- The Anti-Immigrant Enforcement Panel

This section was a surprise addition to HB 87 in its last substitution in the House, and has never had a public hearing. There is no legislative history, nor is there any explanation as to why this provision was even included here. Section 20 creates the "Immigration Enforcement Review Board." The primary purpose of this Board, which will include 7 members appointed by the Governor, Speaker of the House, and the Lieutenant Governor and is attached to the Department of Audits and Accounting, is to:

(1) Conduct a review or investigation of any complaint properly filed with the Board;

(2) take such remedial action deemed appropriate in response to complaints filed with the Board, including holding hearings and considering evidence;

(3) make and adopt rules and regulation consistent with the provisions of this Code section; and

(4) subpeona relevant documents and witnesses and to place witnesses under oath for the provision of testimony in matters before the board.

All of these duties are appropriately vague considering the actual authority of the Board. Here is what the Board has authority to do:

Investigate and review any complaint with respect to all action of a public agency or employee alleged to have violated or failed to properly enforce the provisions of Code Section 13-10-91 (State E-Verify usage), 36-80-23 (Sanctuary Policies), or 50-36-1 (Public Benefits) with which such public agency or employee was required to comply.

Only registered voters can bring complaints, which may in fact violate the due process clause of the state constitution, and possibly the Voting Rights Act.

What is remarkable with this Board is what it can do to these public employees. The Board does NOT have to act as a Board. One rogue member can carry out ALL of its duties AND impose sanctions!! These sanctions include revocation of qualified local government status, loss of state appropriated funds, or a monetary fine of up to $5,000. The standard of proof used for a "conviction" by this Board is a preponderance of the evidence. The Attorney General is the club used by this Board to enforce its decisions and sanctions in Court, should the employee not comply.

This is a RADICAL privatization of government power, and the constitutionality of this provision is suspect. After all we are talking about giving to a Board of private citizens the power to take away the "city" status of a municipality. Frankly, it is insane that this provision is in this anti-immigration bill. It has nothing to do with immigration, and everything to do with pleasing a particular constituent. Ultimately, the courts will decide the constitutionality of this Section.

Section 20.1 -- The H-2A Program and a Non-Study.

In an attempt to placate the Farm Lobby and farmer-supporting Senators, Senator Chip Rogers and Rep. Matt Ramsey added this Section to HB 87 on this last evening of the state legislative session. These provisions appear to have been added in violation of legislative rules. They were challenged as such during the final vote in the House, but the Speaker overruled the objection, upon the suggestion of Rep. Matt Ramsey (some of us were watching this happen live!). Section 20.1 directs the Department of Agriculture to conduct a study of the conditions, needs, issues and problems associated with the H-2A federal temporary agricultural worker program. It authorizes the Department of Agriculture to "provide a report evaluating the legal and economic feasibility of implementing a state guest worker program." I can save the Department of Agriculture a lot of money. Such a program is illegal! I wonder if I can bill for saving the state tens of thousands of dollars? Despite what Utah did with their state anti-immigration bill, there will not be 50 different states with 50 different immigration worker visas!

This Section is nuts, a waste of time and money, and a throw away to get certain Senators to vote for the bill. But, it is legal!

Section 21 -- Severability

This section was written in anticipation of certain parts of HB 87 being found unconstitutional. It simply means that those parts that are not unconstitutional remain in effect.

Section 22 -- Effective Dates

All parts of HB 87 become effective on July 1, 2011, except for Section 17, the section on the acceptance by a state agency of "secure and verifiable documents," which is effective on January 1, 2012. Of course, any criminal offenses and violations only are punishable if they occur after the effective date of the HB 87.

Section 23 -- Repeal of Conflicting Laws.

This last section simply means that nay other laws that conflict with the laws here are repealed.

Conclusion--But Not the End

There you have it. HB 87 in all its bare naked truth. A law that will destroy families, ruin businesses, and obliterate Georgia's economy. Don't believe me? Ask Arizona. HB 87 does nothing to stop illegal immigration. It does nothing to help people in Georgia who do not have jobs, as it creates no jobs. This bill does nothing to help Georgia business become more competitive. What is disappointing is that more businesses and chambers did not verbally, actively and passionately oppose this law for what is really is--a blatant attempt to revive prejudice against immigrants and to scare immigrants into leaving Georgia. Some proponents of this bill have argued that only undocumented immigrants need fear these effects of this bill. But we know the truth, and it was plainly spoken by State Senator Unterwood on the floor of the Georgia Senate--she feels more secure now that she sees fewer Mexicans in her hometown. Wow. That is really what this law is about. We should all be worried that Georgia has traveled back in time 50 years to 1961. But now, we are in the era of Juan Crow, not Jim Crowe. I fear for what will happen to my state because of HB 87, but that is also why we will continue to fight against this terrible excuse for a law. HB 87 undermines all that Georgia has worked for during the last half century. I am embarrassed for our state legislature and I am embarrassed for the governor who signs this. No excuse or rationale is sufficient for letting this become the law of Georgia.