Updated at 5:30 p.m. Monday
District Court Judge Thomas Thrash passed a request to block parts of Georgia’s controversial immigration law until legal challenges are resolved, according to court documents.
Two specific parts of the law are blocked: the ability to penalize people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants while committing another crime and the ability of officers to verify immigration status for someone who can’t provide the proper identification laid out by the House Bill 87.
The American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of other civil rights groups asked the judge to block the law on June 8. They filed a preliminary injunction, saying that HB 87 interferes with federal power, authorizes unreasonable seizures and arrests and restricts the constitutional right to travel freely.
"This is definitely a victory for all Georgians who care about civil liberties," said Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security andImmigrant Rights Project Director at the Georgia ACLU, which brought the injunction to the court on behalf of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.
The ACLU considers the today's news a victory, saying that the core provisions of the law are now blocked. Shahshahani said that the law's potential to penalize people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants is a "provision to penalize acts of charity and kindness."
"This is going to bring a huge sense of relief for the immigrant community," she said.
Gov. Nathan Deal's office described its reaction as "disappointed."
“Curiously, the court writes ‘all illegal aliens will leave Georgia’ if the law is enforced, as if it is appalled at the thought of people attaining visas before coming to our nation," said Brian Robinson, the governor’s deputy chief of staff for communications in a statement.
He said that the ruling helped "crystallize" an underlying problem in the country and state: the federal government becoming an obstacle.
"Georgians can rest assured that this battle doesn’t end here; we will appeal this decision,” Robinson said. The statement points to the fact that 21 of the 23 sections of the law were upheld.
State Rep. B.J. Pak (R-Lilburn), who represents District 102, says he has not had a chance to read the judge’s opinion, but he expects an appeal and that eventually the bill will be upheld.
“The decision is not surprising in light of the questioning by the judge,” Pak said in an email. “The reports state that the judge temporarily blocked two sections of HB 87 [based on a federal preemption theory] until the case can be fully litigated.
“More importantly, the judge dismissed all other claims brought by plaintiffs. No matter what, I suspect the case to be appealed to the 11th circuit and I am still confident the state will win in the end.”
Many aspects of the bill were set to go into effect on July 1.
Lilburn Patch local editor Scott Bernarde contributed to this report.