Georgia police could soon start conducting immigration status checks after an appeals court decision on Monday. The law will allow state and local police to check immigration status if an officer has probable cause that a person has committed another crime and the suspect does not have a driver’s license or other qualifying IDs.
In August, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sustained the status check provision but affirmed a lower court’s hold on another measure that penalizes people who knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants while committing other crimes. The court said the provision is pre-empted by federal law, which already prohibits such activities.
The state in September asked the full 11th Circuit Court to reconsider the ruling of the three-judge panel. In the rehearing petition, state officials said the panel’s ruling “threatens to undermine the cooperative federalism found throughout state and federal criminal law, as well as thousands of criminal convictions for violations of state laws that mirror federal laws.”
In Monday’s ruling, the court rejected Georgia’s request for a rehearing. This action clears the way for implementation of the status check provision, although the court did not say when it can take effect. Implementation could be delayed for some time if the state takes the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Opponents of the law, who have been arguing it could lead to racial profiling, said they will be watching how it is implemented.
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