States that Passed Arizona-style Immigration Laws Now Face Costly, Uphill Legal Battles

Despite repeated warnings from business groups, tourism and industry boards and advocates about the hefty price tag attached to Arizona-style legislation, state lawmakers continued to push “get tough” copycat proposals. Many ultimately rejected SB1070-style legislation (26, to date) due to high costs and political backlash, while others severely watered down, altered or put on hold legislation targeting undocumented immigrants. But states that did pass anti-immigrant legislation, like Georgia and Indiana, now face costly, uphill legal battles.

Yesterday, the ACLU, National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and several civil rights groups filed a class action lawsuit against Georgia’s copycat law signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal last month. Georgia’s law, HB 87, allows police to demand proof of citizenship during traffic stops, includes penalties for people who harbor or transport undocumented immigrants, and “makes it unjustifiably difficult for individuals without specific identification documents to access state facilities and services.” Among other things, the ACLU’s lawsuit charges that HB 87 is unconstitutional because it violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, violates the Fourth Amendment by authorizing “unreasonable seizures and arrests,” and “restricts the constitutional right to travel freely throughout the United States.”

According to Karen Tumlin, an attorney with the NILC:

[HB 87] gives Georgians a reason to fear that they may be stripped of their constitutional rights simply because of the way they look or sound. Laws that promote this kind of bare-bones discrimination are out of step with history and cannot be allowed to stand. We are confident that the Court will agree that unconstitutional attempts to drive a wedge between Georgian communities should not be allowed.

Last week, the ACLU and NILC also filed a class action lawsuit against Indiana’s restrictive immigration law, SB 590, on the grounds that the law “authorizes police to make warrantless arrests of individuals based on assumed immigration status and criminalizes the mere use or acceptance of the commonly used consular ID card.” The ACLU also charged that SB 590 will lead to racial profiling and threatens to “trample upon the rights of all Indiana residents.”

Georgia and Indiana are the third and fourth states facing costly legal challenges in recent months due to SB 1070-inspired legislation. In addition to Arizona’s ongoing legal battle, the ACLU filed suit against Utah’s revised SB1070-inspired immigration-enforcement bill, HB 497, last month. A U.S. District Court judge then quickly blocked the law through a temporary restraining order because he feared implementation of the law would cause “irreparable harm.”

While some states, like South Carolina and Tennessee, might take the long view—putting their proposals on hold to edit out provisions that might spur similar legal action—other states, like Wisconsin and Alabama (which passed an Arizona copycat bill, HB 56, this week), seem intent on moving forward with Arizona-style legislation, despite Arizona’s costly legal lesson.

As previously reported, Arizona has spent upwards of $1.9 million in legal fees defending their law, not to mention revenue lost in cancelled conferences—roughly $141 million. Do taxpayers really have to wait until their state coffers are completely empty before lawmakers realize SB1070-inspired laws are bad for state economies?



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  • Janet Key

    It is particularly appalling, but not unexpected, that this law was passed in the cradle of the civil rights movement. I resent that taxpayers’ money will be spent by Georgia’s government to defend this law which is engendering many lawsuits. I resent the racial profiling that this permits. There is nothing good about this heinous law.

    • tom wing

      Can I tell you why that law was passed?

      It was passed because the citizens of the state of Georgia have been faced with an
      economic tsunami. 9.1 % unemployment for poor white and poor blacks who can not compete with illegals who would accept 5 or 6 dollars an hour to support their family. They really don’t like the new financial strain put on the schools due to having second language (English) classes. The increased crime is probably another consideration. Maybe it’s the new financial strain put on Medicare and all of the other social welfare programs. But of course you would not consider that a problem. This country will end up like Spain and Greece and the other so called Social Welfare states of Europe. Maybe you favor the radicals coming over here from the Middle East and importing Shariah Law from Saudi Arabia. Do you know anything about Shariah Law? I didn’t think so. Tom W

  • tom wing

    Don’t be fooled. You may think that you mean well and are compassionate for some other people. Are you from the ivory tower – did you get a great education -paid for by hard work and help from the folks?? Have they paid the taxes for the last 30 – 40 years? Did they and now you voluntarily pay taxes and live by the Rule of Law? Did you realize that we as a nation are looking at real bankruptcy? When you voted for Obama, did think that our economy would be in the condition that it is in today?
    Did you stop to think that the millions and millions of whites and blacks would be in the financial condition that they are in today. Do you really favor people coming over to this country to get on the welfare rolls(62%). Medicade,? Do you really think that this migration is helping the citizens of this country live a better life?? ??? I don’t think so. Yet you can’t say no – because you don’t live with these illegals, you live in your ivory tower – listening to all of the other so called tree hugging liberals. They have brain washed you. Have you ever been to the so called “safe border”? I didn’t think so. However you were a Terp and that is what the Profs taught you to think.
    My question is- Why don’t you find out for yourself – Go the neighborhoods run by the illegals for a few days. Why don’t you go to the border(bring flak jacket).and find out for yourself. – Yeah I know- you think I haven’t been there. Actually, I have.
    tom w = Jacksonville, Fl

  • tom wing

    I didn’t know that the site had a “moderation panel” I thought you all believed in free speech, liberty for all, etc. I think , unless there is obsenity, etc, that this website could stand an opposite opinion that is well informed and represents an opposing point of view. Am I wrong ??????

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  • JamesBazan

    What if these costly defenses were the exact point of these laws. Kris Kobach’s IRLI has displayed. A clear rainmaking strategy, generating varients on legal theories that can be tested in varous states, thus creating business for the network of anti-immigration law experts. This alows the states to fund anti-immigrant legal training.

    The important question is where did all of these legislators get their model legislation? The answer to that will point to the real purpose of these indefensible laws.

  • Chandra Mitchell

    HB 87 allows Georgia Police to demand proof of citizenship during traffic stops, so how will they determine if the person(s) should be asked? Is it based on the way they look, hmmm.

  • Valerie Menard

    Most economists agree that immigrants contribute more than they consume economically and they do pay taxes, sales taxes, millions of dollars worth, and most don’t use social programs like welfare, out of fear. In my state, the Texas Comptroller (a Republican) conducted a study investigating the real dollar cost of illegal immigration, and even that study concluded that immigrants, illegal or legal, are a vital economic asset. All your information is propaganda, not well informed, conjured up by groups that still fear the browning of America.
    Check your racism, fellas. We here, we’re brown, get used to it.

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