ATLANTA, June 27 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Atlanta Monday issued an order temporarily blocking enforcement of a Georgia immigration law scheduled to take effect this week.
The order by Judge Thomas Thrash means the law, which would penalize those who transport or harbor illegal immigrants, cannot take effect Friday as intended, CNN reported. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and several other civil and immigrant rights groups, who argue the state law is unconstitutional because it's pre-empted by federal law.
Eleven Latin American countries -- Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru -- have joined as plaintiffs in the suit.
Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and other state officials had asked Thrash to dismiss the class-action suit, arguing the law is constitutional, the groups have no standing to sue and the state should be immune from such lawsuits anyway.
The law, known as state House Bill 87, lets police check the immigration status of suspects who can't provide accepted identification. It also lets law enforcement agencies detain and hand over to federal authorities anyone found to be in the country illegally. And it makes lying about immigration status on a job application a felony.
Starting in January it requires many employers to use a federal database to check the immigration status of prospective employees.