After the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit on Aug. 1, to challenge the state of Alabama’s immigration law, HB 56, some plaintiffs from Georgia who had filed a lawsuit on June 2, against Georgia’s HB 87, called the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011,” are questioning why they did not receive the same support from the DOJ. Georgia plaintiffs feel that a challenge from the DOJ would greatly help their case.
In an e-mail to the Epoch Times, Hinojosa Xochitl, a spokeswoman for the DOJ said, “To the extent we find state laws that interfere with the federal government’s enforcement of immigration law, we are prepared to bring suit. The department is currently reviewing immigration-related laws that were passed in Utah, Indiana, Georgia, and South Carolina.”
“In reviewing these, the department is proceeding consistently with the process followed and the legal principles established in United States v. Arizona. Based on that review and applying those principles, the United States will decide whether and when to bring suit challenging particular state laws,” said Xochitl.
“The courts have preliminarily enjoined Georgia’s and Indiana’s state laws and temporarily restrained enforcement of Utah’s law. South Carolina’s law, moreover, is not scheduled to go into effect until Jan. 1, 2012.”
In a telephone interview, Paul Bridges, mayor of Uvalda, Georgia, who is one of the plaintiffs in the current lawsuit against Georgia, declined to comment. He said, “You don’t know how much I would love to, but I was advised that I cannot make any comments on this issue as this case is relatively too important to jeopardize.”
Naomi Tsu, a staff attorney from plaintiff the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a telephone interview, “We would love for the DOJ to get involved with the suit. However, they haven’t communicated their strategy or actions with me; we would welcome it if they chose to do so.” She said she was glad the courts blocked parts of the law from taking effect, and called it “Show me your papers,” its opponents’ nickname for it.
Teodoro Maus is president of Georgia Latino Alliance For Human Rights (GLAHR), and a plaintiff. He said in a telephone interview, “We totally agree with the DOJ’s actions for Alabama and we hope that the DOJ will also file a suit against Georgia.” He said the state already had laws that secured the community, but “this HB 87 is basically formed to attack the minority group.”
Maus also said that the state wants to use parolees to fill agricultural jobs normally filled by Latino migrant workers, but they can’t because the parolees cannot do it. “It is ridiculous, go after the employer, not a group of specific people!”According to Sin Yen Ling, attorney for the Asian Law Caucus in a telephone interview, “The language in HB56 [Alabama’s law] is by far the worse version than the HB 87 for Georgia, it mandates that anytime someone enrolls a child in school, they are mandated to verify not only the information of the child but also the parents. Another provision goes beyond, the HB56 says immigrants who conduct business transactions with undocumented individuals will be subject to possible prosecution, even for mundane incidents.”
Ling also said that should the federal government get involved, they will send a greater and more powerful message than the Georgia based plaintiffs can do.