By KATE BRUMBACK (Associated Press)
The Georgia attorney general’s office said Monday it has appealed a federal judge’s decision blocking two parts of a new state law cracking down on illegal immigration.
One provision that was blocked by a judge authorizes police to check the immigration status of suspects who don’t have proper identification and to detain illegal immigrants. The other penalizes people who knowingly and willingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants while committing another crime.
The appeal was filed with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, attorney general spokeswoman Lauren Kane said. The state provided The Associated Press with a copy of Georgia’s appeal, which requests oral arguments and outlines the state’s objections to the judge’s decision.
The appeal argues that Federal Judge Thomas Thrash erred in blocking parts of the law because the plaintiffs ”do not have a likelihood of prevailing on the merits, have not shown irreparable injury and because harm to the public far outweighs their interest.”
On June 27, Thrash granted a request filed by civil liberties groups to block the two sections of the law from taking effect until a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality has been resolved.
Opponents of the law said the state was trying to raise arguments it had already lost.
”We think the judge issued a thoughtful ruling on this, and we think the Georgia decision is in line with the bulk of the case law on this subject,” said Karen Tumlin, an attorney with the National Immigration Law Center. Tumlin argued in court on behalf of the civil liberties groups.
Other parts of the Georgia law took effect July 1, including one that makes it a felony with hefty penalties to use false information or documentation when applying for a job. Another provision creates an immigration review board to investigate complaints about government officials not complying with state laws related to illegal immigration.
Starting Jan. 1, businesses with 500 or more employees must use a federal database to check the immigration status of new hires. That requirement will be phased in, applying to all businesses with more than 10 employees by July 2013. Also starting Jan. 1, applicants for public benefits must provide at least one state or federally issued ”secure and verifiable” document.