Georgia looks west, seeking to stop illegal immigration

Georgia state lawmakers are looking west to Arizona for ideas as they seek to crackdown on illegal immigration here.

Meeting at the state Capitol on Thursday for the first time, a Republican-controlled legislative committee discussed Arizona’s tough new laws aimed at the thorny problem. The panel — which is seeking to draft a comprehensive immigration bill before the next state legislative session starts in January – also received a report comparing Georgia and Arizona’s laws on the issue.

“I am not sure we will adopt Arizona’s law, but we will come up with our own,” said Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, co-chairman of the Joint House and Senate Study Committee on Immigration Reform. “It would probably be something similar, but I am not exactly sure how it would mirror theirs exactly. But I’m sure that some of the same language would be in there.”

In April, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the nation’s toughest legislation against illegal immigration. But in July, a federal judge blocked the part of that law that requires police to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. That section of the law also requires immigrants to prove they are authorized to be in Arizona or risk state charges. The judge issued the injunction after the Obama administration challenged the law. Georgia has no such laws on its books.

Critics say the Arizona statute is unconstitutional and can lead to racial profiling. Supporter say the measure is needed because the federal government is not adequately enforcing immigration laws.

Meanwhile, Murphy and other members of his committee say they will weigh a number of other issues this year, including whether illegal immigrants should be banned from all of Georgia’s colleges. They also intend to look at the effects of birthright citizenship in Georgia. Children born in this country are automatically given U.S. citizenship by the 14th Amendment, even if their parents are here illegally.

“Given everything that has gone on since we were last in session I suspect there will be a lot of different (immigration-related) bills that are put forth by a lot of different members,” said Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, the other committee co-chairman.

Georgia legislators have started their deliberations amid a fierce gubernatorial race that has repeatedly touched on illegal immigration here. Both Democrat Roy Barnes and Republican Nathan Deal have said they would support an Arizona-style law in Georgia. And a recent poll commissioned by the AJC and the Georgia Newspaper Partnership said most state voters would also support enacting such a law here.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, both Republicans, appointed the immigration committee in September, complaining the federal government has failed to tackle illegal immigration.

Critics observed that all of the panel’s members are Republican. And they said the timing of the committee’s first meeting – less than a week before the gubernatorial election – is no coincidence.

“It points to this being a political gimmickry, smoke-and-mirrors,” said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. “Georgia’s economy depends on the labor of immigrants. Georgia is not Arizona. And we can’t afford to lose half of our agricultural output.”

Ramsey and Murphy have said they intend to have a “thorough and inclusive process and consider viewpoints from all along the ideological spectrum.”

Also this week, state Rep. Tom Rice, R-Norcross, confirmed he will be filing legislation that would block illegal immigrants from enrolling in Georgia’s public colleges. The Georgia Board of Regents voted this month to prohibit illegal immigrants from attending any college that has rejected academically qualified applicants for the past two academic years because of space or other issues. Rice said illegal immigrants should be blocked from all Georgia colleges.

“I think the regents made a good first step,” Rice said. “I think it would be judicious to go one step further and just clear this up.”

15 comments Add your comment

Ralph

October 28th, 2010
10:58 am

The Democrats and media have tried to paint Arizona as out of step, but other states are already ahead of Georgia in passing similar laws since the federal government has abdicated its responsibility to protect our borders and sovereignty.

The AJC is likely to join the demagoguery, but it will surely pass in Georgia.

U.S. Citizen

October 28th, 2010
11:20 am

If the Pew Research center is nonpartisan than why haven’t they did reports on how illegal immigration affects U.S. citizens. Where are the reports on these effects such as how it affects U.S. children economically and educationally in elementary schools with funding for teachers, teacher assistance, extra curricular classes, field trip costs, etc and how much is spent on ESL children vs. these needs for U.S. children. Where are the reports for U.S. citizens on employment such as when an illegal immigrant is removed from a job was the job replaced by a U.S. citizen, did a U.S. citizen have the job previously and what the title of the job and the job duties(not just agriculture). Where are the reports on all of the illegal immigrants’ male children with birthright citizenship to see how many of these male children have registered for the military at 18 years old just like the U.S. citizens’ male children have to do. Where are the reports on the federal funding of housing, medical, food stamps, and welfare for the illegal immigrants’ children only and how there is sufficient accurate documentation that the illegal immigrants are not benefiting in any way from their child having birthright citizenship. How are all of these services given without the illegal immigrants benefiting??? Where are the reports on illegal immigrants use of medical services and how many pay their bills, how it affects their credit reports, the percentage of illegal immigrants paying their bills, if companies can even find them and what percentage this is vs. U.S. citizens. It is easy to shed a favorable light on this subject when it is one-sided but any research center who receives funds and the government uses should ultimately be bipartisan and also use these funds in truthful documentation to include the U.S. citizens who are ultimately funding this through the government.

yuzeyurbrain

October 28th, 2010
11:32 am

Hopefully this demagoguery by the Republicans will fade after they have milked it for all its worth in these elections. We have plenty of big problems in Georgia. This is not one of them.

Ralph

October 28th, 2010
11:54 am

yuzeyurbrain(less) – The Georgia voters are backing Republicans for a good reason. It is your minority position that the ILLEGAL residents are costing taxpayers much more than they contribute.

It is all but certain that Georgia (along with a lot of other states) will pass legislation to address this huge problem. Democrats and their liberal media will push back, but democracy (without ILLEGALS participating) might just win in the end.

john

October 28th, 2010
12:18 pm

Well that’s sad, considering the millions of aliens that run Gainesville.

Ellen

October 28th, 2010
1:19 pm

What are you all waiting for. We here in Arizona have already taken the all the heat for SB1070, Get over yourselves and just do it. Like Nike Just do it. Oh I have Idea let’s play follow the leader. I truely LOVE the Great State of Arizona!!!!!

Carol (KCM)

October 28th, 2010
1:58 pm

We must start enforcing our immigration laws. Illegal immigrants have drained our Social Security through welfare abuse and bankrupt local governments by using our emergency rooms as free health clinics. We do not have enough jobs and resources to sustain 20 million foreign invaders.

jimmy

October 28th, 2010
3:16 pm

I think an sb-1070 type law should be enforced here in GA and illegal immigrants should be deported, so that our ecomony can go from bad to worse, and show everyone we’re just as discriminative as AZ!

Nicki

October 28th, 2010
3:35 pm

This supposed group should be rightfully called the “Let’s Bankrupt Georgia” coalition. Ooh I think every person on this committed be required to pick peaches for .97 a tree in 100 degree Macon heat for a few weeks and also to flip burgers to pick up the slack when the immigrants leave the state. Since its their great idea, they can support the needs of Ga citizens who will surely suffer due to these stupid ideas. :)

another US citizen

October 28th, 2010
4:24 pm

I work in the public school system and our educational system is dealing with the illegal immigrant parents, most who cannot speak/communicate adequate english and communicate with school
personnel. Many of the children need additional help, because they don’t understand much of the work. Rarely do any send money for field trips etc but we are required to include them with all of the class activities, at the paying parents expense! They are taking over many of our FREE resources…parks, facilities, even walking through the mall!!!! and U.S. citizens who are ultimately funding most of these sites through government are tired of it!!!!!!!!!!!

jimmy

November 1st, 2010
11:26 am

i think an sb-1070 type law should be enforced here in GA and illegal immigrants should be deported, so that our ecomony can go from bad to worse, and show everyone we’re just as discriminative as AZ!

jimmy

November 1st, 2010
11:26 am

Nicki

November 1st, 2010
11:28 am

jimmyi

November 1st, 2010
11:29 am

i got the self do you got the bed

Nicki

November 1st, 2010
11:30 am

lets do it then