Monday, June 27, 2011

Judge Blocks Parts of Indiana Immigration Law

In February, Indiana passed an illegal immigration bill that would allow local police to ask individuals for proof of citizenship after committing a crime.

A Senate panel heard more than four hours of testimony on a bill that Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, the bill's author, said would "put teeth into existing law — to say the citizens of Indiana welcome legal immigration but adamantly reject illegal immigration."

It would do so in part by having law enforcement officers ask for proof of citizenship or legal immigration status from anyone they stop for violating any law or ordinance, if those officers have "reasonable suspicion" that the person is not here legally.

"The inability to speak the English language, I believe, will be a key component or a key factor for law enforcement to establish reasonable suspicion," Delph told the committee.

Yesterday, thanks to the ACLU, a federal judge blocked important parts of the bill, citing immigration is a federal issue.

A federal judge blocked parts of Indiana's new immigration law Friday, saying the law was the latest failed effort of states to deal with a primarily federal issue.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker granted a request for an injunction blocking two provisions of the law, which was approved this year by Republicans who control the Statehouse.

A federal judge blocked parts of Indiana's new immigration law Friday, saying the law was the latest failed effort of states to deal with a primarily federal issue.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker granted a request for an injunction blocking two provisions of the law, which was approved this year by Republicans who control the Statehouse.

Barker wrote in the ruling that Indiana's law -- as well as laws enacted in several other states -- is an attempt to deal with what is seen as a failure of the federal government to deal with illegal immigration. She said the two provisions of Indiana's effort to deal with immigration "have proven to be seriously flawed and generally unsuccessful."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the National Immigration Law Center sued the state in May.

"We are gratified that the court recognized that Indiana has no place in making immigration policy and we are happy that the constitutional rights of Indiana residents have been vindicated," said Ken Falk, an attorney with the ACLU of Indiana.

According the the ACLU, illegal immigrants have Constitutional rights on the taxpayers dime at a rate of billions of dollars per year. Considering Arizona, Utah, Georgia, Indiana and Alabama have all passed legislation dealing with the illegal immigration issue on their own, with up to 20 states considering similar legislation, the ACLU is going to have its hands full.


Illegals leaving Georgia already

An entire wall at Village Wash and Dry Lavanderia on Atlanta Highway is filled with clothes dryers. But on a drizzling Thursday afternoon, only one is occupied with tumbling clothes.

A telenovela from a wall-mounted television is a distraction from the emptiness as Araceli Galuan, 29, folds her children's T-shirts.

"Before, in this laundromat, there used to be so many people, but now ..." Her voice trails off while a translator explains that Galuan, who came to Gainesville 13 years ago with her family from Guanajuato, sees a big difference in her adopted community since Georgia lawmakers this year passed an aggressive bill that targeted illegal immigrants.

Unless a federal judge agrees this week to temporarily block it, many of the provisions of Georgia's Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 are set to go into effect Friday.

The bill is Georgia lawmakers' effort at stemming the amount of taxpayer dollars spent providing medical care to illegal immigrants or processing them in the state's judicial system.

But its constitutionality has been called into question by civil rights groups who have sued the state over some of the law's provisions, claiming it violates federal protections from unwarranted search and seizure.

The American Civil Liberties Union has also asked a federal judge to block the state from enforcing its new anti-illegal immigration law until the matter is decided in court.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash has promised that if he issues that requested injunction, he will do so before Friday when the law is set to go into effect.

Barring that decision, as of Friday, local law enforcement will have the authority to check suspects' immigration status and arrest anyone found to be here illegally.

But members of Hall County's Latino community say a lot of people aren't waiting around for the ruling. Many are leaving, they say, and fear is filling the spaces left behind.

At Carniceria Tapatia, a Latino grocery store on Browns Bridge Road, Noe Covarrubias notices the impact that the law, House Bill 87, has already had on Hall County's once-thriving Latino community. "It's a ghost town," Covarrubias said.

Three years ago, Atlanta Highway, the arterial route through Gainesville's Latino commercial community, was so filled with cars that it was difficult for a pedestrian to cross, business owner Jose Luis Diaz recalls. "Today — now — you can cross with your eyes closed," Diaz said.

Hall County, with its ample poultry processing facilities and once-booming housing industry, has for years been an attractive destination for immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

Census figures show that between 2000 and 2010, Hall County's accounted-for Latino population grew by 72 percent, attracting so many immigrants it was one of the first counties in the state that federal immigration officials tapped to participate in the 287(g) program.

Since 2008, the local-federal partnership has allowed local officers to begin deportation proceedings for any arrestee who is brought to the county jail and determined to be in the country illegally.

And though community members say that partnership had its effect on the Latino population of Hall County, they say it's nothing compared to the fear House Bill 87 has inflicted on the community.

"I have never seen such a state of terror," said Father Jaime Barona, the leader of a largely-Latino congregation at Gainesville's St. Michael Catholic Church. "The people are trembling."

Almost daily, Barona says members of his congregation come to him with worries about family members who were deported. He tells of a seventh-grade girl, in the country legally, who had to move back to Mexico away from her family and way of life after her father was deported.

Like the groups that have filed suit against Georgia's efforts, Barona says Georgia's new anti-illegal immigration law invites racial profiling mostly targeted at Latinos. He takes the criticism a step further, saying the bill invites local law enforcement to "hunt" illegal immigrants and "corral" them like cattle.

"What they don't remember is that when the economy was pretty good, the immigrants worked in this county more than anyone else," Barona said. "The immigrants opened businesses. The immigrants came to Hall County and helped to build this county for the past 15 years. They don't remember that."


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