The Atlanta-based federal appeals court ruled that Georgia could soon start enforcing a key part of its sweeping immigration law, empowering state and local police to investigate the immigration status of suspects and take illegal immigrants to jail, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The three-judge panel from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it recognizes arguments from critics that the “invites a host of other problems, namely racial profiling,” and that such racial profiling could spur lawsuits.
Federal court rules say Georgia could begin enforcing the measure — nicknamed the “show-me-your-papers law” — within a matter of weeks if neither side in the case asks for a rehearing by the full appeals court. The court also ruled that another part of Georgia's law should remain on hold. That provision would punish people who knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants while committing other crimes. Both measures terrified illegal immigrants after Gov. Nathan Deal signed them into law last year, prompting some to flee Georgia.