Georgia Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 or HB 87 was signed on May 13, 2011, by Gov. Nathan Deal and is due to take full effect on July 1, 2011. Ever since the bill has been signed into law, it has created fear and confusion not only among illegal immigrants and their families but also among employers all over the state.
The United States Congress decided long ago that immigration law and its enforcement is a matter of national interest. Therefore, it had created special institutions and a comprehensive legislative scheme in order to implement US immigration regulations in a uniform way all over the United States.
However, due to the failure of the federal government to enact immigration law reform, states have taken the matter into their own hands and enacted state laws with the purpose to stop illegal immigration.
The first state to enact such a law was Arizona, followed by Georgia. Other states are considering similar legislation, including Alabama, Florida and South Carolina. The vast majority of these state law provisions are likely to be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, until that happens, these laws may have unexpected consequences for immigrants in these states as they are enforced.
Before the enactment of HB 87, a local or state police officer could not ask for papers or investigate if a suspect is undocumented. However, after the enactment, they are able to do so. And if they are illegal, they are now allowed to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agents about that person’s status.
Under the current federal immigration law, if a person has been unlawfully present in the United States for over 180 days but less then 1 (one) year, that person is subject to a 3 (three) year bar on admission; if a person has been unlawfully present in the United States for over 1 (one) year, that person is unable to apply for admission for 10 (ten) years. Those that have been deported and try to enter the US without authorization, are permanently inadmissible.
Usually, when there are discussions about immigration reform, they refer to these admission bans which seem to have the opposite effect and deter many undocumented immigrants from returning to their countries for fear that they will be unable to come back into the US legally. Therefore, many of these undocumented immigrants prefer to keep this illegal status rather then risking not to be able to come back legally. This is a problem that has to be fixed by the future legislation.
Undocumented immigrants do fear enforcement of HB 87 bill in Georgia starting July 1, 2011. They should because this bill was meant to crack down on illegal immigrants. Emotions are running high and many people already left the state.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recommends that any immigrant in Georgia who is detained by police should remain silent, do NOT comment on your immigration status with anyone but your lawyer. Do NOT answer any questions.
More to come about HB 87.
Please call us at 678-615-8529 for help with any immigration questions or issues.