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Ga. Immigration Law Partially Blocked by Judge

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 29, 2011 6:44 AM

A federal judge partially blocked a controversial Georgia immigration law from coming into effect on Monday, a move that civil rights and pro-immigrant groups are hailing as a success.

The ruling, which is the fourth time in the last year a federal court has halted a state-backed immigration bill, will prevent what are the law's most arguably contentious provisions from going into effect until a full trial can be had at some point in the next year.

When the Georgia immigration law was passed, the ACLU and other advocates primarily focused on two provisions.

One gave law enforcement the power and discretion to question suspects about their immigration status and to further investigate if no proper identification can be provided.

The other criminalized the transportation of an illegal immigrant.

They argued that the first provision is preempted by federal law and invites racial profiling, while the second violates a person's right to travel.

The presiding judge seemed to agree with both of these contentions, finding that, at trial, opponents of the law are likely to succeed.

Even though it was not bound to do so, in making this conclusion, the judge focused on many of the rationales that also informed the 9th Circuit's decision blocking similar provisions in Arizona's immigration law.

He determined that the amount of discretion given to police is inconsistent with federal immigration law, and would result in "inconsistent civil immigration policies."

He also found that these provisions directly impact foreign relations, which is a realm solely left to the Executive.

It's unclear just what impact this ruling will have on the Georgia immigration law in the long run, as well as the country as a whole. But once the 8th Circuit weighs in on the inevitable appeal, things will likely be clearer.

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