The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

December 11, 2012

Judge lifts hold on part of Ga. immigration law

(Continued)

Attorney General Sam Olens' office did not immediately have a comment Tuesday on Thrash's decision.

Omar Jadwat, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that challenged the law, said that while the order seems to lift the injunction, "it would be irresponsible for the state to go ahead and start enforcing it without providing guidance to law enforcement on how it should be enforced.

Police departments and sheriff's offices in the state are governed by local governments which will have to make decisions about how to enforce the law. Unlike similar laws in other states, like Arizona, Georgia's law does not require officers to check someone's immigration status. Instead it authorizes them to do so during the investigation of another crime if the suspect cannot produce an acceptable form of identification, such as a valid driver's license.

Terry Norris, executive director of the Georgia Sheriff's Association, and Frank Rotondo, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, both said they hadn't issued any sort of guidance to local agencies on how to enforce the law.

Norris plans to talk to his organization's training committee to see if they planned to issue any guidelines, but because of the large number of laws that officers have to enforce it's not practical to issue guidance for each one, he said.

"If anything changes, it will not be an overnight change," he said. "It will be a gradual acknowledgement of the provisions and a determination of how to enforce them."

Rotondo said he doesn't expect it to have a great impact on the way law enforcement officers operate. They already ask for identification during a traffic stop or investigation of another offense and they will continue to do so, he said.

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