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Georgia State Immigration Laws

In 2011, Georgia enacted a strict set of state immigration laws covering a wide range of activities relating to daily life. But any meaningful discussion of this issue must be preceded by a breakdown of the differences between state and federal law.

Below, you will find information on what rules Georgia has on immigration checks by law enforcement. You will also find information about immigration-related issues within educational institutions. About employment-related matters, you'll find information about E-Verify requirements. This article also covers restrictions on public benefits related to an immigrant's legal status.

Please note that many of these provisions have seen court challenges, and some are subject to blocks on their enforcement. For the most up-to-date information, contact a local immigration attorney. Many function in a pro bono capacity. This means they can provide noncitizens seeking U.S. citizenship legal services free of charge. They can provide legal services to those from foreign countries navigating immigration-related issues.

Continue reading for an extensive breakdown of immigration-related matters in Georgia. Review the legal resources referenced within this article. They can be integral to navigating U.S. immigration in the Peach State.

Law Enforcement and Immigration in Georgia

Under Georgia law, law enforcement officers can check the immigration status of certain suspects. This is controversial. The type of suspects that officers can check are those who cannot provide identification upon request. The law applies to people subject to a traffic stop but makes exceptions for victims of crime and witnesses.

Often, immigration and enforcement are matters dealt with by federal immigration authorities. But local law enforcement officials are starting to help with immigration matters. This help can fall within the scope of investigating criminal offenses by immigrants.

Employment Checks and E-Verify Requirements

Laws in Georgia make it a crime for people to seek or get work using fake identification documents. Georgia law imposes severe penalties on criminals. These penalties include prison time and fines.

In the state, employers must use the E-Verify system. This system shows a worker's employment eligibility. You may learn more about E-Verify at E-Verify.gov. Also, FindLaw's breakdown of this government-run system is a useful resource.

Under Georgia law, employers must use this system to verify employment eligibility. Under federal law, they are also required to do so. Of course, states have certain unique powers that allow them to deviate to some extent, like how they govern their own jurisdictions. This includes the administration of their own local immigration-related laws and policies. But, the federal government still has the authority to dictate how states engage in these practices. Of course, Georgia is no exception to this rule.

Driver's License/ID Requirements

Georgia requires that all applicants for driver's licenses provide proof of identity. It also requires proof of residency in the state. Under some circumstances, it requires proof of citizenship or lawful residence. Please refer to Georgia's Department of Driver's Services for more information. This is similar to the federal government's requirements for getting federally-issued identification documents. Often, a person must submit the same types of proof for such federally issued identification documents.

Public Benefits Restrictions

Under federal law, immigrants living here illegally can't get public benefits. But they can get emergency services. They are also able to get emergency health care. They are eligible for other programs "necessary to protect life and safety."

That said, benefits can also include those for minors who are the children of people without documentation. But these services are also for emergencies. Georgia has imposed many identification requirements on people seeking public benefits. You must know these requirements if you apply.

Education Rules and Restrictions

Georgia law prohibits illegal immigrants from paying in-state tuition rates at state schools. A state law strips funding from state colleges qualifying as "sanctuary campuses." Sanctuary campuses are schools that offer services to immigrants. Those services include having undocumented people as students.

Voter ID Rules

Georgia is one of the few states with the most strict voter ID policies. Georgia voters must present a photo ID at the voting booth to vote. If you cannot provide one of the acceptable forms of photo ID, don't lose all hope. You can still vote using a provisional ballot. But you must show a photo ID at the county registrar's office within three days of the election.

Other Immigration Rules and Issues

Litigation over many of Georgia's immigration law's provisions is ongoing. Courts have already blocked some of Georgia's immigration laws. For the most up-to-date information, please contact local officials. You might also want to get an attorney specializing in immigration law.

Local law enforcement in Georgia partners with federal authorities. Alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers may help with removal processes. Police can help place people in immigration detention centers, for example. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) partners with local enforcement in a variety of ways. DHS hands down immigration-related directives, which local law enforcement must practice.

Related Resource

Get Legal Help with Georgia Immigration Laws

Federal laws may dictate most aspects of immigration-related laws. But each state has its own laws on the subject. The State of Georgia has such laws addressing immigration. It's a good idea to contact an immigration attorney to discuss any questions about immigration laws.

For example, if you're navigating an issue related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, confusion is pretty normal. Amid any immigration-related process, it's important to use appropriate legal services. It's often difficult to understand immigrant rights. Local governments can pose daunting obstacles in getting citizenship. Threats of deportation are stressful.

Facing an immigration court is scary. An attorney can help you with your dealings with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Detention centers can also be a frightening prospect. Immigration lawyers can help with all these matters, helping non-immigrants, permanent residents, U.S. citizens, and their family members. Speak with an attorney today. Immigrant communities are often faced with how scary immigration policies can be. But attorneys can help. Resources for immigrant advocacy are more widely available than you might think.

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