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Posted: August 2, 2011 10:43 a.m.

Ga. AG lists IDs approved for getting immigrant benefits

ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia Attorney General's Office has published a list of identification documents that may be used to get benefits and services from state and local agencies.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://bit.ly/oSHs4v ) that the list includes U.S. and foreign passports; U.S. military identification cards; state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards; tribal identification cards, and federally issued permanent resident cards.

Starting Jan. 1, state and local government agencies must require people who apply for benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance and business and gaming licenses, to provide at least one of the listed documents.

Civil and immigrant rights groups are suing in federal court to block this part of Georgia's new immigration law. They argue it is pre-empted by federal law, which governs the rules for verifying eligibility for federally funded food stamps and certain subsidized housing.

Rep. Matt Ramsey, the law's author, said it is aimed at curbing illegal immigration and saving taxpayer dollars. Ramsey and others complain illegal immigrants are burdening taxpayer-funded resources in Georgia.

Critics of the law say many people who are entitled to public benefits in Georgia lack such identifying documents, including low-income people and victims of human trafficking.

Omar Jadwat, staff counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, said the law attempts to "create a system where everyone has to carry ID on them all the time. And that is really not the way our country works and it is not the way I think most people expect to have to live their lives."

Organizations representing Georgia's city and county governments said Monday they will be training officials in September on how to comply with the law.

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