Since signing the infamous SB 1070 immigration bill into law last year, Arizona has gained a reputation as a nativist state hostile to immigrants and workers, suffered a boycott that has stifled the state’s tourism and convention industries, and faced a voter backlash so severe that residents have tried to secede—all for a law that has been struck down as unconstitutional and has yet to actually be enforced.
Georgia, apparently, can’t wait to sign up for the same fate. Arresting student activists, ignoring the state’s civil rights history, and snubbing protests from business, immigration, and faith groups in order to pass its own state immigration bill, the Georgia House and Senate voted for an SB 1070 copycat. The bill, which would allow local police authorities to ask Georgians for proof of residency and give them power to detain those who could not produce papers, passed both chambers of the Georgia legislature last week and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal.
The problem? Georgia will soon gain a new seat in Congress, largely due to growth in the state’s Latino population—the same Latino population that state lawmakers and Governor Deal are trying to drive out of the state.
As our own Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, said:
Georgia is a classic example of the Republican Party’s tone-deafness when it comes to the politics of immigration. According to the results of the 2010 Census, Latinos played a key role in expanding the state’s power in Congress. Yet, the state’s leaders are about to enact a law designed to make them leave. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Demographics is destiny, and Georgia Republicans would be wise to make peace with Latino voters and find a way to bring them into their tent, instead of trying to pass laws to get rid of them.