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Court OKs Georgia's 'Papers Please' Law

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on August 24, 2012 4:02 PM

The big news of out of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals this week centered on state immigration laws. After deciding in March to defer consideration of the Alabama and Georgia immigration laws, the Atlanta-based court cranked out two opinions this week on the constitutionality of state efforts to rein in illegal immigration.

Earlier this week, we discussed the Eleventh Circuit's decision to strike an Alabama law requiring public elementary and secondary schools to classify students as either lawfully or unlawfully present within the United States. But where the Alabama student status verification failed, the Georgia "papers please" provision succeeded.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that Georgia can start enforcing its "papers please" provision, which allows state and local police to investigate the immigration status of suspects and take illegal immigrants to jail, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

If no further appeals are pursued, police could begin enforcing the provision within weeks.

The appellate court's decision was consistent with the Supreme Court's decision regarding the "papers please" requirement of S.B. 1070 in the Arizona v. U.S. decision.

Arizona's papers please provision -- Section 2(B) -- requires that officers who conduct a stop, detention, or arrest must verify the person's immigration status with the feds if they suspect the person is an illegal immigrant.

Though the Court upheld Section 2(B), that decision it wasn't a blanket ruling on the constitutionality of provision: The Supreme Court held that it was improper for the lower courts to enjoin the provision before the state courts had an opportunity to construe it, and without some showing that enforcement of the provision actually conflicts with federal immigration law and its objectives.

Similarly, the Eleventh Circuit acknowledged that that statute "invites a host of other problems, namely racial profiling," and could lead to lawsuits which could later overturn the law.

While Georgia may be able to start enforcing its "papers please" provision, we doubt that it will be long before the law is challenged once again in court.

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