Yesterday, I was quoted in a press release regarding Georgia Senate Bill 452. It’s a pretty awful piece of legislation that many organizations are fighting against. Project South has an excellent write-up of the bill available here. There are two important things to know. First, this is not law yet. We have a chance to fight it and make sure it never sees the light of day. Secondly, now is the time to contact your local Representative and the Speaker of the House, David Ralston (404-656-5020), express your strong opposition to it. We have to make our voices heard!

Marietta, Georgia – The Georgia-Alabama Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) denounces SB 452, a bill which violates constitutional principles and will harm our communities. The bill, which passed the Senate, now moves to the House for consideration.

“SB 452 is a horrible piece of legislation that demonizes anyone who could be an undocumented immigrant. It creates a police state for our immigrant communities, and for all of our communities since immigrants are our neighbors, colleagues, and friends. It cannot be allowed to pass,” said Tracie L. Klinke, Chair of the Georgia-Alabama AILA Chapter.

SB 452 seeks to create a pipeline between law enforcement and ICE without any room for discretion. It forces judges, Pardon and Parole Board members, and police officers to understand and apply complex immigration law by verifying legal status,  a seemingly impossible task.

“As immigration attorneys, we know that a person’s legal status isn’t always readily apparent,” noted Ms. Klinke. “With automatic extensions and pending applications, many of our clients cannot point to one document to demonstrate status, even if they are in the country lawfully. The complexities of immigration law should be left to the agencies and individuals who are already well-versed in this arena. SB 452 will lead to people being needlessly detained, to families being torn and apart and children traumatized, and to potentially costly litigation against the agencies involved.”

All attorneys, not just immigration attorneys, should be alarmed by the constitutional violations in SB 452. By mandating the detention of ‘suspected’ undocumented individuals, SB 452 violates the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution requires that there be a judicial warrant or finding of probable cause in order to detain someone – not merely a suspicion. The states also do not have the authority to arrest someone for a civil immigration violation.

“Sadly, SB 452 will inevitably terrorize the community and cause fewer crimes to be reported, as victims or witnesses of crimes without lawful status will be scared to contact the police. The already fragile relationship between immigrant communities and law enforcement will deteriorate in a new environment of distrust and fear” Ms. Klinke concluded.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members. The Georgia-Alabama Chapter is comprised of over 500 members.