Georgia approves tough immigration bill modeled after Arizona's
If Gov. Nathan Deal signs an immigration bill passed Thursday by the legislature, expect court challenges. But also expect it to give momentum to similar bills being debated in Alabama, Florida, and several other states.
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"This will be an important step toward increasing state [immigration] regulation," says Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan Washington think tank that highlights the consequences of legal and illegal immigration.Skip to next paragraph
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Georgia has seen an influx of immigrants, many of them illegal, come to work in its fields and restaurants in the past two decades. The state has an estimated 480,000 illegal immigrants, more than Arizona. Overall, some 12 million people are believed to be in the United States illegally.
“It’s a great day for Georgia," state Rep. Matt Ramsey (R), the bill’s author, tells Politico. “We think we have done our job that our constituents asked us to do to address the costs and the social consequences that have been visited upon our state by the federal government’s failure to secure our nation’s borders.” The legislation passed convincingly, 112 to 59 in the House and 37 to 19 in the Senate.
Agribusiness and some local chambers of commerce largely opposed the measure, saying it could lead to unpicked onion fields and convention boycotts. Critics say the bill is unconstitutional and will encourage racial profiling and discrimination in a New South state that has sought to play down its segregated past.
Some Georgia Republicans from rural areas felt the measure could hurt the farm industry, a sign that Republicans nationally are hardly in lock-step over the use of state and local police to do the job of border patrol agents.
"[Governor] Deal would really want to sign a bill that ... does have some of these police-related provisions, but [Gov.] Mitch Daniels in Indiana is calling for his legislature to do exactly the opposite, to focus on employers and get rid of the police-related stuff that they got from Arizona," says Mr. Krikorian. "I'm not sure how you can explain that."