Alabama immigration law faces legal challenge: Can it survive?

Federal lawsuits have been filed against five states that have passed tough anti-illegal-immigration bills. Here is the legal state of play for all five state laws:

3. Georgia

  • close
    Thousands of people march through downtown Atlanta in protest against Georgia's strict new immigration law on July 2 in Atlanta.
    Erik S. Lesser/AP
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

Bucking pleas from the state's agricultural and business communities, Gov. Nathan Deal in April signed an Arizona-style law into effect that allowed police to ask persons arrested for a crime for immigration documents, and punished businesses and legal Americans for hiring, helping to hire, or transporting illegal immigrants.

The goal: To thwart increasing burdens on schools, hospitals, and social services by people who are in the country illegally.

In rejecting key parts of the law on June 26, US District Judge Tom Thrash found merit in the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) arguments that the state illegally preempted federal law – an argument that could be a key element of a possible Supreme Court hearing on the Arizona-style laws. The judge called Georgia's law an attempt to do an "end run" around federal immigration law.

At the same time, Judge Thrash disagreed with challengers that the law would violate people's constitutional right to travel, and he left intact a requirement for Georgia businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure employee eligibility, which proponents of the law saw as victories.

But in general, the judge was not happy. "The apparent legislative intent is to create such a climate of hostility, fear, mistrust, and insecurity that all illegal aliens will leave Georgia," he wrote.

The statement raised eyebrows among the law's supporters. “Curiously, the court writes ‘all illegal aliens will leave Georgia’ if the law is enforced, as if it is appalled at the thought of people attaining visas before coming to our nation,” said Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Governor Deal.

3 of 5