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State immigration laws facing blocks in courts

The immigration battles continue in federal courts over state laws that have passed across the country. Florida immigration attorneys are aware that lawmakers were unable to come to agreement on anti-immigration legislation during the most recent session. As many as five other states followed Arizona's lead in enacting laws to provide state authority on immigration matters. Arizona's law providing local law enforcement with the authority to essentially enforce federal immigration law has been blocked in the federal court system while the issue rises through the federal courts.

A similar fate appears to be occurring in other states. Federal judges chambered in Indiana, Utah and in Florida's neighboring state of Georgia have blocked anti immigration laws enacted in each of those states. Alabama and South Carolina have recently passed laws regarding immigration issues and lawsuits reportedly are planned to challenge the constitutional authority of those laws as well.

Monday a federal judge sitting in Florida's neighboring state to the north blocked parts of Georgia's anti-immigration law. United States District Judge Thomas Thrash said at a hearing on the matter last week, "You are not going to have 50 systems of immigration regulation." Instead, the federal judge says "In Georgia, you are going to have 159. Every county, every municipality is going to decide what its immigration policy is going to be under this law."

Georgia departed from the standard used in the Arizona model for providing the standard law enforcement should rely upon when attempting to determine an individual's legal status in the U.S. The Georgia law reportedly allows state law enforcement officers to check an individual's immigration status if the person is unable to provide identification or other papers sufficient for law enforcement to determine identity.

Alabama Modeled a state law similar to Arizona's law. Lawmakers reportedly were aware of the federal court ruling blocking the Arizona law and hope for a challenge to the Alabama law. Michael Hethmon is with the Immigration Law Reform Institute. The group reportedly has been assisting lawmakers across the country draft anti-immigration laws similar to the one first passed in Arizona.

Hethmon says Alabama lawmakers want the matter to be placed before judges in the 11th federal circuit. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit hears federal issues arising in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. In the absence of a national ruling made by the United States Supreme Court, federal appellate court decisions control in a given circuit.

Hethmon says Alabama lawmakers believe judges in the 11th circuit may interpret the law differently than the judge in Arizona who blocked that state's law. The matter is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Source: USA Today, "Georgia, other states tackle immigration piecemeal," Alan Gomez 28 Jun 2011

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