Judicial Watch has joined efforts to uphold key provisions of Georgia’s new illegal immigration law that a federal judge has temporarily ruled cannot be enforced by the state.
The conservative watchdog group argues in its “friend of the court brief” filed last week in U.S. District Court that Georgia is not attempting to take over the federal role of “regulating immigration,” but “has merely invoked its well-established police power and codified the inherent, well-established investigatory powers of state and local police officers.”
Civil liberties groups have challenged the Georgia law, known as HB 87, because of sections that would allow police to check immigration status when questioning people, and punish people found to be transporting or harboring illegal immigrants.
The sections could be applied even during traffic stops or other routine investigative activities.
“The apparent legislative intent is to create such a climate of hostility, fear, mistrust and insecurity that all illegal aliens will leave Georgia,” U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. wrote in decision issued on June 27 blocking enforcement of the sections.
He added that state officials are attempting to use the law to overstep the federal government’s authority on immigration enforcement.
“State and local law enforcement officers and officials have no authorization to arrest, detain or prosecute anyone based upon sections 7 and 8 of HB 87 while this injunction remains in effect,” Thrash ruled.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Georgia “has the legal right and constitutional authority to protect its citizens against crimes associated with illegal immigration.”
He added that the law is really designed to give state law enforcement officials “modest new tools” to fight sex trafficking, drug dealing, black-market labor crimes, and gang violence.
The legal challenge against the Georgia law is the latest round in fights between state and federal officials over control of enforcement. Federal courts have also blocked similar laws in Arizona and Utah.
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