A federal judge yesterday blocked two of the more stringent provisions of a new Georgia immigration law, saying they would have supplanted federal immigration laws.

One measure would have required police officers to check the status of anyone without proper identification, and the other would have punished people who house or transport undocumented immigrants. The ruling left in place a measure that tightens identification requirements for people applying for benefits like food stamps and public housing, and another that requires businesses to enroll in the federal E-Verify program, which requires businesses to register new employees in a database that checks their immigration status.

The defendants wildly exaggerate the scope of the federal crime of harboring under [the law] when they claim that the Plaintiffs are violating federal immigration law by giving rides to their friends and neighbors who are illegal aliens, Judge Thomas Thrash said.

He added that Georgia's insatiable demand in decades gone by for cheap labor drew undocumented immigrants to the state and condemned the law for seeking to drive immigrants away by creating a climate of hostility, fear, mistrust and insecurity.

Governor Nathan Deal argued in a statement that states must take matters into their own hands given unwillingness on the federal level to pursue undocumented immigrants.

Beyond refusing to help with our state's illegal immigration problem, the federal government is determined to be an obstacle, Deal said.

The ruling continues a now familiar pattern in which states across the country have passed harsh immigration laws only to see parts of those laws repudiated in court. Arizona, Indiana and Utah are also facing legal challenges to new laws.