The battle over Georgia’s stringent new immigration enforcement law shifted to the courts yesterday asl civil rights groups filed a lawsuit to stop the measure from taking effect, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and several immigrant rights organizations and individuals are challenging the law in federal district court. They argue the measure is pre-empted by federal law and unconstitutional.
Georgia legislators say they crafted the immigration law so it would stand up in court. The suit targets several parts of Georgia's new law, including one that would authorize police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects and take illegal immigrants to jail. The plaintiffs argue that provision intrudes on the federal government's power to regulate immigration. Advocates say Georgia's law differs from Arizona's in several ways. For example, Georgia's law makes it optional for police to investigate the immigration status of suspects they believe have committed state or federal crimes and who cannot produce identification or provide other information that could help police identify them. Arizona's law requires police to check the immigration status of suspects during “any lawful contact” when practicable and when they have “reasonable suspicion” that the suspects are illegally in the country.