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Judge clears way for police to check for undocumented immigrants
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Those seeking stronger enforcement of this country’s laws against illegal immigration — which is long overdue — can take heart from a decision this week by U.S. District Judge Tom Thrash in Atlanta and, prior to that, a decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Thrash cleared the way for Georgia law enforcement authorities to begin checking the immigration status of criminal suspects who fail to produce proper identification.

The decision came in connection with Georgia’s Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act (HB 87) passed last year. Judge Thrash had put preliminary injunctions in place last year preventing enforcement of two provisions of the law, pending the outcome of a legal challenge against it by various “pro-illegal” groups.

One of Thrash’s injunctions blocks the part of the law that makes it illegal to knowingly harbor or transport an illegal immigrant during the commission of a crime. That injunction remains in place.

The other provision in question — and the far more significant of the two — makes clear that it is legal for police, sheriffs, etc. ...

A three-judge panel from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had said in August that police could start enforcing that provision unless the state or the plaintiffs asked for a rehearing by the full court. Thrash quietly signed an order that showed up in an online filing system Tuesday, which lifts that part of the injunction. It means that law-enforcement agencies can immediately start enforcing that section of the law.

It’s worth reiterating that Georgia (and other states like Arizona and Alabama) only passed such laws because of Washington’s failure to lead. We now have the spectacle of a president using an executive order to open the door to millions of illegal immigrants already in this country in order to allow them to compete for your job.

But thanks to HB 87 and the courts, and to Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, who defended the state’s law in court. It now is clear that state and local governments have at least a measure of legal authority to protect themselves from the ill effects of illegal immigration.

— Marietta Daily Journal, Dec. 14

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