By Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for the National Immigration Law Center
Taken together, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decisions on the cases against Alabama and Georgia’s immigration laws represent a few additional nails in the anti-immigrant law coffin. Although the court decided not to block for now the damaging provisions authorizing police to demand “papers” from those they suspect of being in the country without authorization, the majority of Alabama’s law has been stopped, and one damaging provision of Georgia’s law will not be allowed to take effect.
Georgia’s law, which was challenged only by civil rights organizations, is narrower in scope than Alabama’s, but was written with the same goal in mind: to make life so miserable for immigrants and their families that they leave the state. HB 87, as Georgia’s law is known, would have created a series of state crimes to penalize those who house or drive with undocumented immigrants. From a practical perspective the impact of this law is clear: a U.S. citizen son of an undocumented mother, for example, would commit a criminal act if he were to take his mother to the grocery store to buy milk. The 11th Circuit rightly recognized that Georgia overstepped its bounds by creating a series of crimes that do nothing more than criminalize everyday neighborly acts in a domain that remains in exclusive federal territory.
Alabama’s law, HB 56, has been called “Arizona’s SB 1070 on steroids,” and for good reason.