America's Voice En Español »
Hostility from a key voting demographic, weakened ties between law enforcement and communities, and boycotts that chill the local economy have all been consequences of Arizona’s decision to pass the infamously stringent SB 1070 anti-immigration bill last year. How bad is it? Arizona, no less anti-immigrant now than before, last week declined to pass a handful of SB 1070-addendums, in response to opposition from CEOs, tourism officials, and economists who had seen enough of how enforcement-only policies were hitting their bottom line.
Yet apparently the state of Georgia wants in on the action, with both its House and Senate chambers this month passing Arizona-copycat bills.
HB 87, passed by the House, would force businesses to use E-Verify to check the legal status of all employees, authorize local law enforcement to work with federal immigration authorities, and give private citizens grounds to bring civil suits against public employees who did not sufficiently enforce the law. SB 40 in the Senate focuses on similar law enforcement and E-Verify provisions.
Opponents say the bills would turn Georgia into an Arizona-like police state. From Atlanta Progressive News:
Many believe HB 87 will encourage racial profiling and a vigilante environment in Georgia. This bill would require all Georgians to carry identification on them at all times in order to avoid being detained while police try to determine their status…it would hurt state and local economies and lead to a tremendous loss in tourism dollars. There may also be economic consequences from enforcement, lawsuits, and boycotts.
Other bills floating around the Peach State include HB 59, which would bar undocumented immigrants from attending Georgia’s universities; SB 7, which would ban them from collecting workers’ compensation for on-the-job injuries; and SB 65, which would prevent them from collecting unemployment benefits. It is unclear how far these bills will go in the legislative session, though the Senate has passed a bill that would make driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol a felony on the first conviction—but only for undocumented immigrants.
Meanwhile, the Georgia House must look over SB 40 and the Senate must pass HB 87 before Governor Nathan Deal can sign either. A rally against the anti-immigrant legislation is planned for this Thursday at the Georgia state Capitol, with the Indigo Girls performing.