Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens [official website] filed a notice of appeal [press release] in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia [official website] on Tuesday, stating that he plans to appeal the recent injunction [JURIST report] of a controversial immigration bill [HB 87 text]. Judge Thomas Thrash issued a preliminary injunction for the plaintiffs—the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) [advocacy websites] and other rights groups—last week. Thrash granted the injunction request for sections 7 and 8 of HB 87, saying that the plaintiffs would face irreparable harm should the law take effect and that the public interest weighed in favor of issuing the injunction. The bill, which was scheduled to take effect on July 1, allows law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status when questioning suspects in criminal investigations. The law also imposes fines and prison sentences of up to one year for anyone who knowingly transports illegal immigrants during the commission of a crime, and requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify [official website] system to check the immigration status of potential employees, providing that workers convicted of using fake identification to gain employment could face up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Georgia's appeal will be filed within the week in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website].
The Georgia suit does not mark the first time the ACLU and other groups have taken legal action against immigration laws in recent months. Last month, the ACLU filed a class action suit challenging an Indiana immigration law [JURIST report] that requires individuals to provide proof of their legal status at all times and calls for all public meetings, websites and documents to be in English only. Also last month, the ACLU and other groups filed a class action suit against a Utah immigration law [JURIST report] that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for an alleged felony or serious misdemeanor. Federal judges have enjoined both the Indiana and Utah laws [JURIST reports]. Similar legislation has been approved in Alabama, Virginia and Oklahoma [JURIST reports]. Arizona's legislation, signed into law last April, is currently enjoined, and Governor Jan Brewer has pledged to appeal to the US Supreme Court [JURIST reports].