Local Groups File Challenge to Cherokee Anti-Immigrant Ordinance

Court enjoins Cherokee County enforcement of anti-immigrant ordinance

January 05, 2007

ATLANTA, GA – Today, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Georgia (ACLU/GA), ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, and attorneys from the law firms of Troutman Sanders LLP and Hernan, Taylor and Lee, LLC held a news conference to announce that they have secured a court order preventing Cherokee County from enforcing a new ordinance that would have penalized landlords who fail to verify the immigration status of new tenants.

Landlords and tenants represented by the groups filed a complaint and an application for a restraining order in U.S. District Court court yesterday, January 4, 2007. Cherokee County consented to the entry of the order by Judge Timothy Batten. The order provides that the County will not enforce the ordinance while the lawsuit is pending.

“This ordinance imposes a great burden on landlords and tenants in Cherokee County and ultimately leads to discrimination against Latino prospective tenants,” stated Southeast Acting Regional Counsel of MALDEF, Isaiah Delamar. “We have filed this lawsuit on behalf of landlords who are unfairly burdened by the requirements of this ordinance and our community that has been grossly divided.”

“We applaud Cherokee County's wise choice to refrain from enforcement at this time. We are confident that ongoing challenges to similar laws will continue to be successful and that Cherokee County will ultimately withdraw its ordinance in light of those results,” said Omar Jadwat, a staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project.

“With all due respect, as explained in our lawsuit, immigration matters are a national issue that our constitution and laws say should be dealt with by Congress, hopefully through immigration reform. We look forward to working with our co-counsel and with Cherokee County, to resolve this matter,” stated Alan E. Lubel, Partner at Troutman Sanders.

“This is a positive step for all concerned. I am gratified that the leadership in Cherokee County agreed to slow down and consider the long term impact this ordinance could have on everyone in the county,” Debbie Seagraves, Executive Director ACLU of Georgia.

“Hernan Taylor & Lee is delighted to see the enforcement of Cherokee County's ordinance halted,” says Jamie Hernan, Managing Partner of Hernan Taylor & Lee, “and hopes that the focus will turn from local enactment of unconstitutional laws, and actions that misrepresent the true spirit and nature of Americans, towards a comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level that recognizes and honors the inherent human dignity of all people.”

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund