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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Georgia Immigration Decision a Blueprint for Alabama

By: Tommy Eden, Attorney

On June 27 Federal District Judge Thomas Thrash issued a temporary restraining order putting on hold some of the most controversial parts of Georgia's new anti-illegal immigration law. The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil and immigrant rights groups are suing to block the law and the Judge agreed that they have shown they are likely to succeed in arguments that these provisions are preempted by federal law. The Judge left intact the part of the law which would require many Georgia businesses to shortly begin using the federal E-Verify system for all new hires. That system helps companies ensure their newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States.

Judge Thrash’s decision temporally halts two sections of the law that were to go into effect Friday, July 1. The first, empowers police to investigate the immigration status of suspects who they believe have committed state or federal crimes and who cannot produce identification, such as a driver’s license, or provide other information that could help police identify them. The second, would punish people who, while committing another offense, knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants or encourage them to come here. These are almost identical to the Alabama bill signed by Governor Bentley. See Top 10 DO’S and DON’T for Employers under the Alabama Immigration Act.

This is the fourth time parts of various state immigration enforcement laws have been put on hold since last year. Federal Judges in Arizona, Indiana and Utah have halted similar laws in those States following constitutional challenges; and Alabama and South Carolina are in the ACLU crosshairs.

On May 26, the United States Supreme Court in CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. WHITING gave the green light to states to mandate the use of E-Verify by employers and punish non compliance with the suspension of business licenses.

Common Sense Counsel: without questions all Alabama Employers will have to comply with the E-Verify requirements of the Alabama Immigration Law so today:
• Enroll in E-Verify at
• E-Verify is an Alabama employer’s only get out of jail card with Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) and the Alabama business penalties;
• Schedule I-9 Supervisor Training because the E-Verify system is only as good as the information collected on your I-9 forms;
• Schedule Do & Don’t under the Alabama Immigration Law Training for Supervisors
• Put an E-Verify policy in your employee handbook; and
• Make sure you are using the latest version of Form 1-9.

Tommy Eden is a Lee County native and attorney with Capell & Howard, P.C. and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law, and presented throughout the State of Alabama on Immigration Workplace Compliance and also to the Governor’s Commission in 2008. Tommy can be contacted at or 334-501-1540 and a more detailed summary of the Alabama Immigration Act is at