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Atlanta faces fine under new immigration law

Atlanta seems to be at the center of a number of questionable practices by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with many immigrants reporting that ICE agents are detaining them when they attend routine check-ins with authorities. There is great public disagreement about this tactic, with some claiming that ICE is merely upholding the law. Others claim that ICE is arresting individuals who pose no discernible threat, which seems patently unjust.

Now, the city of Atlanta faces a fine that may be a bellwether of larger conflicts to come in the struggle for fair treatment of immigrants. Georgia's Immigration Enforcement Review Board chose to issue a fine of $1,000 against the city for allegedly violating a law stating that government agencies must use the Systematic Alien Verification of Entitlements program (SAVE). The federal database allows its users to verify immigrants who apply for government services have a legal status.

The specific complaint notes that the city did not use SAVE when it renewed the non-profit business license for Atlanta Historical Society. The city replied that it was not necessary to use SAVE for that transaction because the law requiring SAVE had yet to take effect. The board still elected to issue the fine. Although the actual fine is essentially a slap on the wrist for the city, it still sends a strong warning to both city officials and immigrants that granting flexibility of any kind to immigrants may not be tolerated by those who oppose immigration.

If you or someone you love is an immigrant, it is so very important to know your legal rights and understand how to protect them. Protecting the rights of immigrants is certainly more difficult in the current political climate, but not impossible. It is always wise to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can examine your circumstances and help you understand how to protect yourself from unfair treatment while you work toward a bright future here in America.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Atlanta fined $1,000 for violating Georgia immigration law," July 21, 2017

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