— ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — A federal judge in Atlanta has cleared the way for a section of Georgia's tough law targeting illegal immigration that had been blocked to enter into effect.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash on Monday issued an order adopting a judgment on the law by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In a ruling before the law was set to take effect in July 2011, Thrash had issued preliminary injunctions that blocked some parts of the law pending the outcome of a legal challenge to the law filed by a coalition of activist groups.
A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit in August ruled that a part of the law that authorizes law enforcement to verify the immigration status of criminal suspects who fail to produce proper identification should be allowed to go into effect. Thrash's order, which showed up in an online filing system Tuesday, seems to indicate that law enforcement agencies can immediately begin enforcing that section of the law, said lawyers in the case.
The 11th Circuit panel left in place Thrash's injunction blocking part of the law that makes it illegal for someone to knowingly harbor or transport an illegal immigrant during the commission of a crime. That section of the law remains blocked under Thrash's new order.
The order issued Monday does not resolve the lawsuit filed by the activist groups challenging the law. It merely addresses the preliminary injunctions.
"We're going to be monitoring the implementation of the show-me-your-papers provision in Georgia very carefully," said Karen Tumlin, a lawyer with the National Immigration Law Center, referring to the law enforcement section of the law. She said they'll gather evidence on how the law is interpreted and enforced to use in seeking a permanent injunction of that section.