A federal appeals court issued a ruling that struck down part and upheld part of the Georgia Immigration law yesterday. The court said that the sections of the law dealing with police asking for documentation of legal status when there is probable cause was upheld. This is one of the more controversial provisions in the law and has been argued that it will lead to racial profiling of Latinos in Georgia.
In the same ruling though, the court struck down another controversial section of the law dealing with knowingly harboring, transporting illegal immigrants or inducing illegal immigrants to come to Georgia. This has given many in the agricultural and religious communities heartburn in that there are more than one type of “knowingly”. The concern is that farmers would be held responsible for “harboring” even if they had fired the individual when they found out they were illegal or if they came to the state for work at a farm but could not be put to work because they were not authorized, the farmer still induced the person to come to GA. Churches were concerned that taking migrant workers to church or for medical care would be considered “transporting” under the law and be held criminally accountable.
This ruling was not entirely unexpected given the recent court rulings on the Arizona case.
We will continue to monitor issues that come up on immigration across the region and get the information to you as soon as possible.
Appellate court hands down mixed ruling on Ga. immigration law – Atlanta Business Chronicle.
USATODAY posted an article recently outlining the issues agriculture could face in light of the immigration laws passed in Georgia and Alabama in 2011. This is article looks at the possibilities of farmers moving crops around in order to reduce the labor needs for the next year or two. Most still aren’t sure about how much of a shortage there may be in
coming months around planting and harvest but many aren’t willing to bet a lot on ample Continue reading →
Congratulations to long-time association member Mark Mobley, owner and Presiden or the Mobley Gin Company in Doerun, GA on his appointment to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Board. Governor Deal recently appointed Mark to the position that began Jan 1.
Mark, a former Southeastern Cotton Ginners Board Member, currently serves on the board of directors of the Georgia Development Authority, the board of directors of the Ameris Bank, the board of trustees of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, and the Colquitt County Hospital Authority. Mobley attended the University of Georgia. He and his wife, Judy, have four children, John Mark, Matthew, Tyler, and Daniel. They reside in Moultrie.
Congratulations once again to Mark and we look forward to working with him in the future.
>Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed the very controversial HB87 Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act on Friday May 13 along with about 50 other bills passed by the legislature. This bill was blogged about many times as it worked its way through the General Assembly. The portion of the bill that has generated the most interest among our members is the section on the e-Verify system. I will give a much more detailed review of those provisions at a later date and send them to the Georgia members but suffice it to say that most of our members could have to use the E-Verify program by the 2013 season.
The bill has many sections dealing with immigrants, employers, and those that transport or harbor illegal immigrants. These provisions put severe criminal penalties for knowingly helping illegal immigrants stay underground and/or move them from place to place. Along with the employer sections, there are several sections dealing with the expansion of a
Federal program that allows local law enforcement to initiate deportation proceedings as well as requiring proof of legal residence if the law enforcement official has probable cause to suspect a person they have stopped for whatever reason is illegal.
Several of these provisions are similar to laws in other states. Many of those laws are being challenged or have been overturned in those states. It is expected that those sections in the Georgia law will be challenged immediately upon the law going into effect. I would expect an injunction to be put in effect when those challenges are filed. The question becomes whether or not any injunction will stop the entire bill or just those sections that are being challenged.
There are many questions regarding the bill that will likely be answered as rules are drafted and several news articles about the bill have been seen throughout the state. The issue causing the most calls to this office is the effective date of the law (particularly the E-Verify sections). The bill has now become law. The effective date is July 1, 2011 for most provisions contained in the bill, but the E-Verify section (Section 12) has a phase-in period. Employers with 500 or more employees will have to comply beginning January 1, 2012…those with 100 to 500 employees must comply July 1, 2012 and those with 10 to 100 employees must comply by July 1, 2013. Those with fewer than 10 employees are exempt from the E-Verify provisions of the law entirely. It is important to note that the number of employees for determining compliance will be the number of employees (those working more than 35 hours per week) ON January 1, of each year. Evidence of compliance with this code section must be shown to any local, or state authority issuing a business, professional, occupational or other license or that may be covered in certain sections of Georgia law before a license can be renewed or issued.
As Georgia moves forward with this implementation of this law, we will keep all members but particularly our Georgia members informed as to the details of this broad immigration law. Other states in our region are in the process of passing or have passed similar laws. It will be interesting to see how these evolve and move within the courts and as the rules are drafted and promulgated. Keep reading the blog and don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions.
>Late in the last day of the Legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly has passed a very tough immigration enforcement and reform law in place. The Governor has given every indication he will sign whatever immigration bill the legislature sends him. There were some last minute wrangling in both houses with amendments that change compliance dates etc but we are looking at a bill that will require all private employees with 10 or more employees to participate in the E-Verify program.
Over the objections of members of both houses that the bill will cost the state millions in legal fees, lost taxes from cancelled conventions and will cause racial profiling, the bill passed both the Senate and House with strong majorities. It will be some time before we see final language and the rules. We will work with our Georgia members in the coming months and years as this bill gets phased in. Summaries will be sent out to our those GA ginners as soon as possible.
This will probably be our last blog post on this issue until we get a summary of all the changes made by both houses and we have a chance to summarize the bill as finally written. Our attention will now be focused on the AL legislature where the House has already passed a similar bill.
>The Georgia General Assembly has been working on anti-illegal immigration legislation this session. Here is the current situation. The House and Senate have each passed their own versions of Immigration bills. The part that will likely have the most impact on ginning is the mandatory use of the federal E-Verify program. This program has been around a long time and, while not perfect, seems to be the best method for employment screening for eligibility to work.
The House Judiciary Non-Civil committee, just today, took up the Senate version of the bill and substituted its original House language in its place. This means we are now working with a Senate Bill and a House Bill with nearly exactly the same language. In GA each bill must stand on its own where in Congress they could conference right now. This means that one of the bills must pass the other house. Whichever bill passes first, the originating house has the option to concur which is likely if there are only minor changes or they could require a conference committee. All indication is that we are headed for a conference committee on this bill.
South Carolina passed a mandatory E-Verify bill a few years ago but unlike the GA bill, SC allows for businesses to hire employees from a limited list of states in lieu of using the E-Verify system.
The bill in Georgia would require all businesses with 5 or more employees to participate in E-Verify beginning December 31, 2012. This effectively gives two seasons before we would need to begin participating in E-Verify.
There are several other sections to the bill but the E-Verify is the one that is generating the most interest.
More as the bills move.