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Friday, March 4, 2011

Georgia one step closer to enacting Arizona-style immigration law

DEBATE AND RALLY: While lawmakers, including Speaker Pro Tem Jones of Alpharetta, debated the controversial immigration measure, more than 150 opponents protested outside the Gold Dome
  • Joeff Davis
  • DEBATE AND RALLY: While lawmakers, including Speaker Pro Tem Jones of Alpharetta, debated the controversial immigration measure, more than 150 opponents protested outside the Gold Dome

Despite demonstrations of opposition on the Capitol steps yesterday, the Georgia House voted overwhelmingly to approve HB 87 — known by many as the "Arizona copycat law" — legislation intended to crack down on illegal immigration.

The bill requires that employers verify workers' legal status using a federal — and, according to some, flawed — database. It also allows police to check a detainees legal status and criminalizes the transport of illegal immigrants. The general fear in the human rights community is that the bill will allow for racial profiling.

Representatives from a variety of human rights and labor groups — including Amnesty International, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights and Teamsters Local 728 — and more than a hundred protestors gathered outside the Capitol yesterday to urge Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the legislation should it eventually reach his desk.

Jerry Gonzalez, director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials said, “This bill is an embarrassment to the people of Georgia. While everyday Georgians struggle to keep their homes and jobs, the legislature spends its time scapegoating hard working immigrants who contribute to Georgia’s economy and culture. We can’t afford to be passing racially biased laws that embarrass us in the eyes of the country and the world."

In an attempt to quell the acrimony, Deal spokesman Brian Robinson told the AJC yesterday that the bill "still has a ways to go" before it's enacted. In response to questions about the call to veto, Robinson said simply, “We can’t veto something that is not on our desk.”

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