America

Georgia Legislature Passes Arizona-Style Immigration Bill

Jason Azurmendi, left, is joined by Will Pesante, center, and Kristen Everett, right, all of Atlanta, as they protest a controversial immigration bill outside the state Capitol Thursday. i i

Jason Azurmendi, left, is joined by Will Pesante, center, and Kristen Everett, right, all of Atlanta, as they protest a controversial immigration bill outside the state Capitol Thursday. David Goldman/AP hide caption

itoggle caption David Goldman/AP
Jason Azurmendi, left, is joined by Will Pesante, center, and Kristen Everett, right, all of Atlanta, as they protest a controversial immigration bill outside the state Capitol Thursday.

Jason Azurmendi, left, is joined by Will Pesante, center, and Kristen Everett, right, all of Atlanta, as they protest a controversial immigration bill outside the state Capitol Thursday.

David Goldman/AP

In the last hours of its session, the Georgia Legislature passed an Arizona-like bill that targets undocumented immigrants. HB 87 would require police to check the immigration status of "criminal" suspects and would require businesses to use a federal database called E-Verify to check a prospective's employee's status.

The bill now moves to the desk of Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who the Los Angeles Times reports, campaigned on passing this kind of bill.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Deal said he would sign the bill into law:

Deal said he will review the legislation, House Bill 87, to be sure, "but at least the broad parameters of what we know are there appear to be consistent with what we would be agreeable to."

...

"To try and craft legislation that is within the parameters of what a state can do without overstepping its bounds is difficult," Deal said. "And I commend the General Assembly for trying to put a product together that they felt like met that, and from what I have seen, I believe it does meet that."

The bill has faced opposition from both Georgia's significant agricultural business and Latino activist organizations. Georgia's farmers, reports the Times, warned that the federal guest worker program could no provide enough laborers to tend to the fields.

The National Association of Latino Elected Officials' Educational Fund said in a statement that HB 87, like SB 1070 in Arizona, would prove costly to the state:

Georgia's HB 87 is an unconstitutional and costly measure that will jeopardize the public safety of all Georgians, violate their civil rights and subject Georgia's Latinos and newcomers to discrimination.

The bill contains several unconstitutional provisions that attempt to supersede federal immigration laws and will likely result in expensive litigation for Georgia, as it has in Arizona. There is a lesson to be learned there.

Reuters reports that on Monday, a U.S. appeals court agreed with a lower court and put parts of Arizona's law on hold. Reuters also points out that similar bills are moving through state legislatures in "Alabama, Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Utah has passed and the governor signed an Arizona-inspired measure, which also included provisions such as a guest worker program."

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