ACLU Sues Over GA Anti-Immigrant Law

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The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and a coalition of other civil rights groups filed a class action lawsuit challenging Georgia’s discriminatory anti-immigrant law passed last month and inspired by Arizona’s notorious SB 1070. The Georgia law authorizes police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops, criminalizes Georgians who interact daily with undocumented individuals and makes it unjustifiably difficult for individuals without specific identification documents to access state facilities and services. The lawsuit charges that the extreme law endangers public safety, invites the racial profiling of Latinos, Asians and others who appear foreign to an officer and interferes with federal law.

Georgia is the third state to have enacted laws emulating Arizona’s controversial and costly SB 1070, even though the Arizona law was blocked by the courts. Utah and Indiana passed similar laws earlier this year. After an ACLU and NILC lawsuit, a federal district court last month put Utah’s law on hold pending further review. The ACLU and NILC also filed a legal challenge to Indiana’s law.

The lawsuit charges that Georgia’s law, HB 87, is unconstitutional because it unlawfully interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution; authorizes and requires unreasonable seizures and arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment; restricts the constitutional right to travel freely throughout the United States; and violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution by unlawfully discriminating against people who hold certain kinds of identity documents.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on behalf of civil rights, labor, social justice and faith-based organizations, including Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Service Employees International Union, the Southern Regional Joint Board of Workers United, Alterna, Coalition of Latino Leaders, Task Force for the Homeless, DreamActivist.org, Instituto de Mexico, Coalition for the People’s Agenda and the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center; individually named plaintiffs who would be subject to harassment or arrest under the law; and a class of similarly situated people.