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Businesses closing for Day Without Immigrants
Protest will be followed by march at state Capitol
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Related story: Law changes will take effect today

Georgia immigration law

A federal judge has stopped the state from enforcing two provisions of Georgia's tough new immigration law. But much of the rest of the law takes effect today. Here's a quick look at the law:

Stopped by the court

A provision that would punish people who knowingly harbor or transport illegal immigrants. First-time offenders would have faced up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A provision that let police investigate whether suspects who they believe have committed a crime and cannot produce proper identification are here illegally.

Portions that take effect today

Using fake or falsified identification to get a job could result in up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Government officials who violate state law requiring the use of E-Verify to determine immigration status of employees could be removed from office and forced to pay up to $10,000 in fines.

The state will establish an Immigration Enforcement Review Board to hear complaints about government officials who aren't enforcing the state's immigration laws.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture will study the possibility of creating a guest-worker program from the state.

Portions that take effect Jan. 1

People who apply for food stamps, business licenses, housing assistance and other public benefits will be required to provide a document that provides verifiable proof of legal residence.

The full list of acceptable identification will be available by Aug. 1

Portions to be phased in

Starting Jan. 1, businesses with more than 500 employees must use E-Verify to determine if new employees are eligible to work in the United States.

On July 1, 2012, businesses with between 100 and 500 employees must use E-Verify.

On July 1, 2013, businesses with between 11 and 99 employees must use E-Verify. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees are exempt.

Cerramos. Closed.

That's the word posted on the doors to Carniceria Tapatia on Browns Bridge Road today as employers join the grass-roots A Day Without Immigrants protest against Georgia House Bill 87.

Portions of the bill, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, are set to go into effect today.

"We're calling for statewide action," said Eva Cardenas, community organizer for the Atlanta-based Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. "We're asking the community not to shop and not to work."

Noe Covarrubias, manager of Carniceria Tapatia, said the store is one of 40 businesses owned by his family that will be closed today.

"It's basically just to show the economic power immigrants have," he said. "There's thousands of people here whether they're illegal or legal. It just takes one person to spread the word ... A lot of our customers are participating."

This is the second time the store will be closed to take a stand against immigration laws, Covarrubias said.

He was unsure of how many other local businesses will be shut down today.

"(Immigrants) appreciate that local businesses are here in support of them," he said. "The immigrant community is a big part of the cash flow in the United States."

Kit Dunlap, president of the Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce, said she is unsure how much of an economic impact A Day Without Immigrants will have on the area.

"How would you know? Everybody's leaving anyway for the holiday. They've already left or they're leaving today or tomorrow," she said. "It's certainly not the best way to protest if you support this country."

Gainesville Mayor Ruth Bruner, however, does think the city could see reduced spending.

"I can certainly understand why they want to have a protest. They're trying to make a statement," Bruner said. "I think there'll be a certain impact countywide, but I don't know how much."

A Day Without Immigrants will be followed Saturday with a mass rally and march at the state Capitol, Cardenas said.

"The people responsible for HB 87, we're calling these people out," she said. "It shows there's a problem at the federal level for comprehensive immigration legislation."

Covarrubias said between 287(g), which took effect in 2008, and HB 87, Hall County has been hit hard by existing immigration reform.

"The message that I personally want to send is they need to pass immigration reform," he said. "The people who are already here, they have to stop breaking up homes and leaving children without a breadwinner. A good reform would better communities and the economy."

Though A Day Without Immigrants has only been in the works for about two weeks, Cardenas said Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights received lots of community support statewide.

"We've had people call to say, ‘I'm closing my shop down, I'm asking my employees not to come to work and I'll pay them,'" she said. "I have heard of 15 (immigrant-owned) stores personally that are closing. These are chains that will close other branches."

Cardenas said some in the immigrant community expressed concern that not showing up at work today might cost them their jobs, but she added in many cases the bigger picture won out.

"It's a risk that we're willing to take," she said.