Archive for ‘Justice’

July 20, 2011

7/19 – The Marietta Daily Journal – Pastor joins pair s hunger strike

The Marietta Daily Journal – Pastor joins pair s hunger strike.

by MDJ Staff
July 19, 2011 03:15 PM | 1173 views | 18 18 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

MARIETTA — The Rev. Jeff Jones, a Cobb County Unitarian Universalist pastor, has joined Salvador Zamora and Martin Altamirano in their hunger strike in protest of Georgia’s immigration law, HB 87.

Jones said he learned of the pair’s protest July 13 and met with Zamora and Altamirano twice before launching his own seven-day fast Friday.

Jones plans to digest nothing but water with lemon and honey during the fast.

HB 87 “fails to recognize the important role that immigrants play in Georgia’s economy (and) will tear families apart,” according to press release announcing Jones’ fast.

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Pastor joins pair s hunger strike

July 19, 2011

7/19 – Bloomberg – Georgia Citizen Panel Will Fine Immigration-Crackdown Laggards – Bloomberg

Georgia Citizen Panel Will Fine Immigration-Crackdown Laggards – Bloomberg.

By Margaret Newkirk – Jul 19, 2011 12:01 AM ET

Georgia Panel Empowered for Immigration Crackdown

Thousands march through downtown Atlanta to protest against Georgia’s strict new immigration law on July 2, 2011 in Atlanta. Photographer: Erik S. Lesser/AP

Georgia mayors, county commissioners and even business-license clerks may face $5,000 fines from a panel of state-sanctioned volunteers empowered to investigate complaints about compliance with a new immigration law.

The board will be able to subpoena witnesses and strip funding from public bodies it finds have violated the law and levy fines against governments and individuals.

The first-of-its-kind Immigration Enforcement Review Board is part of a law that took effect July 1, making Georgia one of six states that have taken immigration enforcement duties into their own hands. To date, the law has provoked a federal lawsuit, a court injunction and a shortage of fruit and vegetable pickers in Georgia’s harvest season. The enforcement board’s job is to keep government officials in line.

“This is a radical privatization of government power,” said Charles Kuck, a lawyer who is part of a legal team challenging the law. “There was no evidence presented, not even anecdotal evidence, that there was a problem that needed to be solved.”

The board is unique to Georgia, not duplicated in the other five states — Arizona, Utah, Indiana, Alabama and South Carolina — that have enacted immigration laws, Kuck said.

Its members will be appointed by Governor Nathan Deal, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and David Ralston, speaker of the House of Representatives. Members will be unpaid. The law sets no eligibility standards.

Mischief, Paperwork

Deal said in an interview yesterday that he expects to make his appointments in the next few months and the review board to begin its work in January.

“The Legislature did a very good job,” he said. “I was very pleased with the final rendition of the bill.”

Kuck said the review panel was added to the legislation with no public hearing, and will invite mischief, increase paperwork and waste money without effect on illegal immigration. He said the board reminded him of Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy’s investigations of supposed Communists in the 1950s.

“It’s like a mini-McCarthy panel,” he said.

Supporters, including state Representative Matthew Ramsey, say citizen oversight is critical and that the new board is a compromise.

“Originally, I had wanted to give private citizens the standing to sue,” said Ramsey, who sponsored the law.

More than 10,000 protesters descended on Atlanta, capital of the ninth-most-populous state, on the day the law went into effect. In reality, only a few parts of the law became enforceable July 1.

Holding Pattern

A federal court blocked two key requirements four days earlier in response to a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union and several partners. It blocked language allowing police to check immigration status and criminalizing transportation of illegal aliens in some circumstances.

The ACLU has sued in five of the six states with new laws and won similar injunctions in four.

There were 425,000 illegal immigrants in Georgia in 2009, or 4.3 percent of the state’s population then, according to the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center. The 325,000 of them who worked composed about 6.5 percent of the labor force.

After a two-year phase-in that starts in January, Georgia companies will have to use the federal E-Verify system to confirm their employees’ legal status through government records. The system has been criticized for inefficiency, bad data and vulnerability to identity fraud, according to a 2008 U.S. Government Accountability Office report.

New Bite

The provisions of the law that did start July 1 include those targeted at elected officials and public employees. They add penalties and an enforcement process — including the citizen review board — to laws in effect since 2006.

Those require government to E-Verify employees and contractors and to check the legal status of noncitizens applying for “public benefits,” which include services as varied as housing assistance, adult education and business licenses.

The laws had no teeth, said D.A. King, a Marietta activist who pushed for the new measure. “We got what we could get in 2006,” he said.

The new review board will examine complaints from registered Georgia voters about public bodies’ failure to use either the E-Verify system or the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements database.

Willful Violations

If it finds a violation based on a preponderance of evidence, the board can levy fines of as much as $5,000, cut funding for local governments or strip them of eligibility for state-administered funds and programs.

Ramsey, the law’s sponsor, said the board would sanction only those who didn’t follow or agree to board-ordered remediation plans and that individuals would be fined only if their violations were knowing or willful.

Most local governments already comply with the E-Verify part of the law, said Amy Henderson, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Municipal Association.

The verification requirement for public-benefit applicants has been more problematic, she said, calling the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements database “cumbersome.”

“I’ll be honest,” she said. “Some of them have found it difficult to register.”

‘Just Him’

Parrott, three hours south of Atlanta, has a population of 156. It’s one of only five jurisdictions that in the past year complied with the requirement to report a business-license applicant whose legal status was unverifiable.

He was “an Indian guy,” said Nan Riegle, Parrott’s part- time city clerk and sole employee.

“I have just him, just one guy who owns a convenience store,” she said in a phone interview. “He wanted to renew his business license.”

“I couldn’t get the system to work,” Riegle said. “I did all the things I was supposed to do. It is horrible. These little towns, we have so many mandates coming out of Atlanta, our workload has doubled.”

Riegle said she’d heard of the new penalties for failing to check benefit applicants, and about the enforcement board. She called the idea awful, while saying she’ll do her best to comply with the law.

“I can’t afford to get my little town fined,” she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Margaret Newkirk in Atlanta at mnewkirk@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net.

July 18, 2011

7/18 – ajc.com – New immigration law targets use of fake IDs  | ajc.com

New immigration law targets use of fake IDs  | ajc.com.

 

Georgia Politics 5:35 a.m. Monday, July 18, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Any Georgia adult who uses a fake ID to get a job could go to prison for 15 years and pay a fine of $250,000.

The new offense, called aggravated identity fraud, went into effect July 1 under a little-noticed provision of the state’s new immigration law. It applies to everyone, not just illegal immigrants. The penalties are on par with possessing up to 10,000 pounds of marijuana.

“It’s a harsh penalty,” said Frank Rotondo, executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. “But it is meant as an eye-opener, to send a message.”

In addition to illegal immigrants, those the law might snare, officials said, are deadbeat parents who are trying to hide income and young people lying about their age in order to get a job. (However, penalties are lower — no more than three years and $5,000 — for culprits younger than 21.)

Before July 1, the crime of using a false form of identification often resulted in probation and a small fine, Rotondo said.

Supporters of the law say it will help deter illegal immigrants from coming to Georgia and burdening the state’s taxpayer-funded public schools, hospitals and courts. Many come to Georgia to find work.

“We just can’t afford it,” said Bob Andrews, a salesman from Smyrna who followed the new law’s progress through the state Legislature this year. “The costs are astronomical for the healthcare they get, for education… not counting the court systems and clogging that up and causing all kinds of problems.”

But critics said the penalties are extraordinarily harsh and could trigger constitutional challenges.

“Not only does it not fit the crime, it’s absolutely anti-human rights,” said Teodoro Maus, president of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, which has successfully fought other provisions of the law in court. “It’s ridiculous. It’s unbelievable.”

This facet of the law has not been placed on hold, unlike two other provisions that would empower police to investigate the immigration status of suspects and punish people who, while committing another offense, knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants.

Compared to those provisions, the fake ID section received relatively little attention. Consequently, many police agencies around the state said they are not sure whether they or some other law enforcement agency should enforce it, or even how they would do it.

For now, numerous metro Atlanta police agencies are taking a go-slow approach.

“We’re still evaluating how we are going to proceed,” said Mekka Parish, spokeswoman of the DeKalb Police Department. “There’s not a lot of clarity.”

Given the department’s lack of experience in handling immigration offenses, it would probably try to hand off the investigation to another agency more familiar with those issues, she said.

In Cobb County, police spokesman Dana Pierce said the police department handles crimes in which someone uses a fake ID to buy beer, but the sheriff’s department handles investigations into identity fraud.

But over in the sheriff’s department, Col. Don Bartlett said, “My best guess is that the police get this.” He added that the use of fake IDs by illegal immigrants seeking work is a big problem.

The Republican author of the law, state Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City, acknowledged that it applies to anyone. But he said it could help stop the flow of illegal immigrants to Georgia.

Ramsey argued that the maximum penalty is not too harsh because illegal immigrants who use fake identification to get jobs are “putting another person or entity in legal jeopardy -– an employer –- because it is a violation of federal law to employ an illegal alien.”

Several police agencies said they’re unclear on how they would learn about the crime. Few expect the farmers, landscapers and others who employ immigrants to report someone they discovered using a false identification.

“Without them doing that, we would never know,” said Bobby McLemore, the sheriff in Ben Hill County in South Georgia. However, he said, his officers might catch violators during other investigations, “in the course of daily business.”

The law has taken effect at a time when most of the hiring for the summer farm season has already occurred. Farmers won’t be hiring again in force until the fall. But even now, other employers of immigrants say they are nervous about the new law and remain unsure how it will affect their businesses.

Some employers know little about the law. Melinda James, who employs 150 people on her tomato farm in northeast Georgia, said she followed the public debate and court decision to put on hold the two prominent parts of the immigration law. But she was unaware of the fake ID provision.

James said her workers all provide her with forms of identification. “As far as I know, they’re legal,” she said.

She worried about whether, if she did discover that a worker was using a fake ID, she would be liable in any way.

“I don’t want to do anything illegal,” she said.

Other identity fraud crimes, which often are committed in the course of attempting to steal money, already carry hefty penalties, including up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for repeat offenses. Rotondo, of the police chiefs group, said penalties have risen with the increase in credit card theft.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter predicted that police will develop cases against perpetrators of aggravated identity fraud while investigating other crimes.

Probably, he said, “law enforcement is going to have some undercover operation for these groups that are creating false IDs, and use portions of this statute to charge them with,” he said.

July 12, 2011

7/11 – Examiner.com – Georgia’s recent immigration protests resembles Civil Rights Movement – Macon Political Buzz | Examiner.com

Georgia’s recent immigration protests resembles Civil Rights Movement – Macon Political Buzz | Examiner.com.

In this most recent protest, labor leaders and protesters were joined by the Rev. Al Sharpton. The civil rights activist has said that this new immigration law is unconstitutional and is an effort to legalize racial profiling in the United States.

Latinos’ population have continued to rise, but the struggle to achieve civil rights have paralleled the fight for civil rights that African-Americans struggled to receive via landmark Supreme Court decisions throughout the 20th century.

In the most recent Census, Latinos comprise approximately nine percent of Georgia and that number is growing. The state of Georgia has the highest percentage of African-Americans of any state in the nation with approximately 31 percent.

So four out every 10 Georgians are either black or brown.

Myths about undocumented immigrants have been cited as a reason for a state such as Georgia or Arizona to enact punitive laws that doesn’t solve the problem , but  hurts the Peach State’s economy.

Immigration reform is needed, but Republican economic policies over the past decade led by George W. Bush has had more of detrimental, negative trickle down effect on the economy than illegal immigration.

Republicans have given record-setting tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires n 2001 and 2003 that helped to turn a surplus left by Bill Clinton into a deficit,. Plus, conservative governors nationwide have refused or delayed help from the federal government’s economic stimulus (passed by a Democratic Congress) here in Georgia back in 2009 and 2010.

The tenure of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and the more conservative current governor, Nathan Deal has halted the economic recovery here in the Peach State. Conservatives are willing to bankrupt Georgia in order to prove a political point against President Barack Obama, and the people getting hurt are mostly middle-class and lower-income Georgians.

Both Perdue and Deal ran campaigns during mid-term election years (2002, 2006, 2010) and scapegoating immigrants and racial minorities has proven to be profitable politically, but the poisonous fruit of their legislation such as HB-87 has begun to make some of their own conservative constituents question this law.

Many may remember in America’s long history, African-Americans were viewed as three-fifths of a human being at one-time by law and one of the worst Supreme Court justices ever–Roger Tawney–had issued an opinion in the Dred Scott Decision of 1857:

Here is part of it:

[African Americans] had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it.

Laws had been subsequently created such as the Black Codes and Jim Crow laws and they were fought in court and eventually those punitive, unconstitutional laws were struck down.

Parts of HB-87 has been blocked by a judge for now and also in Arizona

This issue definitely brings in the votes for Republican candidates, but when it comes to governing and getting American moving in a forward direction, this is where Republicans have come up vastly short.

America is a nation of immigrants–a melting pot– and conservative policies don’t provide solutions, but present more problems.

Rural Georgians , who primarily vote Republican, are in my cases registered Democrats who want to have it both ways on the issue of undocumented workers and immigration reform.

This isn’t 1935 or 1956. This is 2011.

Rural Republicans who are former Dixiecrats has had a tough time adapting to the fact that diversity is a strength, but a weakness.

The issue of immigration reform is a civil rights issue, bu also a labor law issue as well.

One of Dr. Martin Luther King’s last speeches involved the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike.

Many workers were walking around with signs that said “I am a Man”.

Progressive whites, blacks and people of all races should be alarmed along with open-minded independents in the state of Georgia.

Georgia farmers, agri-business and construction companies have utilized Latinos to help boost their businesses over the past couple of decades and usually get paid less than the minimum wage in many cases and often migrant workers and undocumented workers work in the metaphorical shadows.

African-American Georgians who are older than 70 years old remember the time of Jim Crow and sharecropping in the Deep South.

Many Georgia farmers and Georgia businesses who utilize migrant labor for decades have grown to like this arrangement, but at some point there has to be a pathway to citizenship for migrant workers.

When African-Americans were fighting for voting rights in the early-to-mid 20th century, legal obstacles were thrown up in the same fashion that HB-87 or the Voter I.D. law are put up today.

Punitive, unconstitutional legislation such as HB-87 doesn’t save American jobs, but damages Georgia’s economy and hurts the soul of this country.

For now, the protest marches will continue.

Continue reading on Examiner.com Georgia’s recent immigration protests resembles Civil Rights Movement – Macon Political Buzz | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-macon/georgia-s-recent-immigration-protests-resembles-civil-rights-movement#ixzz1RwwSNKtT

July 12, 2011

July 15th, 2011 King Center Event – NonViolence in Action – Immigration

 

 

Time: Friday, July 15 · 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Location: The King Center – Freedom Hall Auditorium (449 Auburn Avenue Atlanta, GA)

To RSVP click here, or follow on Facebook

For more information call (404) 526 – 8970 or email at cpierre@thekingcenter.org.

Copyright © 2011 The King Center, All rights reserved.
You’re a contact of The King Center in Atlanta, GA

Our mailing address is:

The King Center
449 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30312

July 5, 2011

7/5 – Center of American Progress – Your State Can’t Afford It

Your State Can’t Afford It.

Your State Can’t Afford It

The Fiscal Impact of States’ Anti-Immigrant Legislation

SOURCE: AP/David Goldman

Jason Azurmendi, left, is joined by Will Pesante, center, and Kristen Everett, right, all of Atlanta, as they protest a proposed controversial state immigration bill outside the state capitol on April 14, 2011 in Atlanta. As most states wrap up their legislative session for the year, only a handful (Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and South Carolina) passed anti-immigrant bills, while 26 others rejected them, mainly because of their cost.

Download this brief (pdf)

Read the full brief in your web browser

It has been just over a year since the passage of Arizona’s ill-fated anti-immigrant law, S.B. 1070. In its wake, many states put copycat bills on their agendas for the 2011 legislative session. But as most states wrap up their legislative session for the year, only a handful (Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and South Carolina) actually passed anti-immigrant bills, while 26 others rejected them. Even Arizona, which last year saw its anti-immigrant bill largely blocked by a federal judge, joined this movement and rejected a series of even harsher bills this year.

While opponents have had some successes in a handful of states, far more states rejected anti-immigrant bills. One of the principal reasons for the failure of so many of these legislative efforts was cost. S.B. 1070 and bills like it in other states are expensive to implement at many levels, placing a heavy burden on state and local governments already feeling the effects of a down economy. This brief examines the costs of anti-immigrant legislation from a variety of perspectives, detailing the losses that states such as Arizona have already faced, as well as the future costs that states such as Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, which have only just recently passed their own anti-immigrant laws, will have to reckon with.

In particular, we focus on three costs:

  • The economic damage stemming from a state being perceived as hostile, including lost tourist revenue and individuals choosing to live elsewhere rather than remain in an unwelcoming environment.
  • The burden of implementing these laws, each of which requires significant resources to be deployed by state and local governments to turn local police into immigration officers—to the determinant of their regular law enforcement duties. The laws also force small businesses into costly immigration enforcement through the use of the electronic employment verification system, known as E-Verify, which some states have made mandatory as part of their anti-immigrant agenda.
  • The expense of the legal fees associated with defending anti-immigrant legislation from the raft of ensuing lawsuits.

As we will demonstrate, these costs are crippling for states and their citizens—so much so that dozens of states have decided against pursuing an anti-immigrant agenda. We examine these costs in detail and then close our analysis with a brief overview of the only reasonable alternative: comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level.

States protect their wallets from Arizona-style bills

[A state immigration law] would basically eliminate the tomato industry in the state. … in agriculture we are totally dependent upon a hand process.

— Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange

A number of states that considered Arizona-like legislation explicitly rejected it after uncovering the crushing fiscal burden such laws would impose. In Kentucky, for example, a fiscal-impact analysis by the state Senate found that passing S.B. 6 (legislation similar to Arizona’s) would cost $40 million a year. The analysis stated that the overall burden on local governments “including local law enforcement agencies, is expected to range from moderate to significant in the short-term.” These costs included such things as:

  • Additional training for law enforcement on the new procedures
  • Additional personnel to implement the ordinance
  • New technology acquisition costs
  • Transportation costs for those immigrants arrested under the law
  • Increased jail usage
  • Legal costs, both those needed to revise local ordinances and those to defend the overall legislation

In short, it identified a laundry list of unseen costs to consider.

In Tennessee, legislators shelved their anti-immigrant bill in the face of a $3 million price tag for the first year and $2 million for every subsequent year. These expenditures included the cost of hiring 24 new criminal investigations division officers, a whopping $1 million in first-year training costs for local law enforcement, and significant additional expenses to process, house, and transport the estimated 7,500 additional undocumented immigrants who would be detained each year.

While Florida’s legislature did not formally “score” their bill—budget speak for calculating the cost of the legislation—the business community voiced their opposition to the almost certain economic losses that would incur. The Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation argued that undocumented immigrant workers contribute $4.5 billion in taxes each year, which would be lost if those immigrants were driven from the state or entered the underground economy where they would pay no taxes. Even the state agriculture commissioner, Adam Putnam (R), argued that “we are known as a diverse, welcoming state … we have to be very careful about messages we send explicitly and implicitly.” Growers like those represented by Reggie Brown of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange worried particularly that they would lose their workforce, as migrant workers skip over the state for more friendly ones nearby, potentially devastating the $500 million tomato industry.

Even Arizona, the originator of S.B. 1070, declined to pass five additional anti-immigrant measures after a group of 60 business leaders sent a letter to the state Senate highlighting their potential impact on the state’s businesses. The letter acknowledged the precarious financial state of Arizona in the wake of S.B. 1070, arguing that the boycott of the state was “adversely impacting our already-struggling economy and costing us jobs.” Even outside of the state, the letter continued, “Arizona-based businesses saw contracts cancelled or were turned away from bidding.”

Arizona pays the price

It is an undeniable fact that each of our companies and our employees were impacted by the boycotts and the coincident negative image.

— Letter from 60 chief executives to Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce

Indeed, states stand to lose out significantly if they are seen as hostile and unwelcoming, especially to groups like Latinos. Even before Gov. Jan Brewer signed Arizona’s S.B. 1070 into law, leaders inside and outside of Arizona began to call for a national boycott of the state. One week after Gov. Brewer signed the bill, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom instituted a moratorium on official travel to Arizona. Los Angeles followed suit only a few weeks later, as have a number of other major U.S. cities. Phil Gordon, the mayor of Phoenix, labeled the boycott’s effects as a “near economic crisis.”

Within days as well, pundits in the state had already noticed that conferences were being cancelled, with some estimates of possible lost revenue as high as $90 million. In the end, the actual figures for lost conference money were far higher. Research conducted by Arizona-based economists for the Center for American Progress found that anti-Arizona sentiment resulted in a major hit to the tourist industry, with significantly decreased wages, lodging revenue, and tourist dollars. These losses have already totaled at least $141 million, including $45 million in hotel and lodging cancellations, and $96 million in lost commercial revenue. Fewer tourists has meant that an incredible 2,761 jobs, $253 million in economic output, and $9.4 million in tax revenues have disappeared, with the potential for far worse results in the future.

What’s more, this analysis only focused on one sliver of the economy—conference cancellations— meaning the identified costs are likely just the tip of the iceberg.

And to what end? If Arizona accomplished the stated goal of S.B. 1070—“attrition through enforcement,” making life so miserable for undocumented immigrants that they leave the state—it would shrink Arizona’s economy by $48.8 billion. Eliminating all of the undocumented immigrants in Arizona would not occur within a vacuum but would instead destroy an important piece of Arizona’s overall economic pie. Undocumented immigrants make up roughly 7 percent of the state’s population, and eliminating them would evaporate 581,000 jobs—not just for immigrants but also for native-born workers who are employed in sectors dependent on immigrant labor.

This mass attrition would reduce the state’s tax revenues by 10.1 percent, both in terms of revenue lost from fewer people in the workforce, as well as fewer people in the state paying income, employment, and consumption taxes, such as sales tax.

Georgia’s costly decision

Georgia passed its own version of S.B. 1070, H.B. 87, in mid-May. Business groups, especially in the agricultural industry, attempted to stop the bill from being passed in the first place, with 200 agribusiness leaders sending a petition to the legislature expressing their displeasure. The letter argued that “our state’s unemployment rate still leads the nation, and we should look for alternatives to adding new costly mandates that could discourage legal job creation.” The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau also expressed its concerns about the possible effects of the law on future tourism and conventions. Nevertheless, the bill easily cleared both the House and Senate, and Gov. Nathan Deal signed it into law.

It is too early to say what the full economic ramifications of H.B. 87 will be, though we conjecture that losses could be considerable in industries heavily dependent on immigrant labor. Anecdotal evidence suggests that undocumented immigrants are leaving the state to work elsewhere or else have decided not to come work in the state. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, businesses that cater heavily to immigrants, such as grocery stores focusing on Latino products, have seen steep declines in their sales.

Indeed, nearly half of Georgia’s agribusinesses have reported shortages of workers, and employers such as Georgia’s Vidalia onion growers worry that they will not have enough workers to pick their crops—a potentially disastrous result to the $65 billion state agriculture industry. The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association estimates that the losses stemming from H.B. 87 will total at least $250 million this year alone. A state survey of agriculture employers found more than 11,000 jobs, or 14 percent of the total, unfilled. Gov. Deal suggested a novel solution to this dearth of farm labor—replacing immigrant workers with parolees from the state’s prison system.

Businesses and taxpayers bear the high cost of implementation

[There has been] little or no savings in government services from the ordinance. … the issue is not what it cost the government to implement, it’s the rhetoric about the issue and the negative impact it has had on the brand and reputation of Prince William County.

— Prince William County, VA, Supervisor Frank Principi

Anti-immigrant legislation places a double burden on states and localities. It hurts businesses that have to shoulder the costs of programs such as use of the electronic employment verification system E-Verify. And it imposes significant unfunded mandates on local law enforcement officials, passing the fiscal burdens to localities that simply cannot afford them. Let’s examine each of these costs in turn.

E-Verify is costly

Participating in E-Verify imposes a high price on employers, and is ineffective. Eight states so far have mandated E-Verify for all employers (Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah) but many other states require the system for some portion of employers. Government surveys have found that the system has an error rate as high as 54 percent for unauthorized workers, meaning that it catches less than half of all people without status.

What’s more, a Public Policy Institute of California report on Arizona’s experiences under E-Verify found evidence that the program shifted many unauthorized immigrants in Arizona from the formal economy, where they pay income taxes, to the informal economy where they do not. The tax revenue from undocumented immigrants in 2010 for Arizona was more than $433 million, $130 million for Alabama, and $456 million in Georgia, according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.

E-Verify disproportionately harms small businesses. A Bloomberg study from January 2011 estimates the costs to these employers, which make up more than 99 percent of all businesses, would be $2.6 billion if the system were made mandatory. Most disturbing, with an error rate of roughly 0.8 percent for legally authorized workers, the National Immigration Law Center estimates that roughly 770,000 American workers would lose their job nationwide because of the system. These hard-working, innocent Americans would be unemployed simply because a state decided to implement E-Verify.

E-Verify does not inoculate a business from prosecution under the federal immigration laws. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, for example, the largest chicken producer in the United States, was raided by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers in 2008. The company “prided” itself on having each and every one of its plants enrolled in E-Verify, and according to their own admission, had “relied on the ICE Best Hiring Practices in designing its immigration compliance practices.” Since E-Verify only checks that the information provided by the employee matches the information on file, it cannot catch identity fraud, leaving the company open to charges of hiring unauthorized workers.

The upshot: Even with strict E-Verify usage, Pilgrim’s Pride ultimately settled with the federal government for $4.5 million.

Ensuring a legal workforce is an important part of any immigration system, and penalizing employers who intentionally hire undocumented immigrants is critical to reducing the flow of undocumented immigration. But E-Verify cannot work unless it is accompanied by a stable, legal workforce. Deploying it universally, when 5 percent of the workforce is undocumented, will create more enforcement challenges than it solves.

Local law enforcement costs are significant

Prince William County, VA, provides a cautionary example of the high costs to law enforcement of implementing anti-immigrant measures. County legislators failed to consider these expenditures before passing their immigration ordinance, to their significant detriment. A county ordinance of July 2007 required police to check the status of anyone they had probable cause to suspect was not in the country legally. But the chief of police, Charlie T. Deane, estimated the county would have to spend $3.2 million to install cameras in every patrol car to ensure no racial profiling would occur. On top of these expenditures, the county estimated its law would require $1.3 million just to implement, and would trigger annual costs between $700,000 and $750,000. After considering the burden, the county board of supervisors revised its ordinances to allow immigration status checks only for those already under arrest.

Had they continued with the strictest enforcement provisions, their expenditures would have unquestionably been higher. But even still, the costs were significant and failed to accomplish the stated purpose of reducing crime. A 2010 evaluation of the enforcement ordinance by the Center for Survey Research, the University of Virginia, and the Police Executive Research Forum found that “the policy has not affected most types of crime in Prince William County, in large part because illegal immigrants account for only a small percent of arrests overall and a small to modest share of offenders for most types of crimes.” The report did find a reduction in the number of undocumented immigrants in the county but it also found that “Hispanics elsewhere in the metropolitan area are not eager to move to Prince William,” while other legal immigrants simply left.

Mounting legal fees

They already owe $3 million just to their cavalcade of lawyers, who keep getting it wrong. It is clearly [other people’s money].

— William A. Brewer III on the lawsuit challenging Farmers Branch, TX’s local anti-immigrant ordinance

Beyond lost tourist and agricultural revenue, passing anti-immigrant legislation means having to expend a significant amount of money on legal fees. The federal preemption doctrine, which gives the national government alone the power to decide immigration law, precludes most state and local action on immigration enforcement. And to date, most anti-immigrant statutes have been struck down and virtually all have been challenged in the courts.

In July 2010 U.S. District Court Judge Susan R. Bolton issued an injunction blocking the most controversial parts of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 from taking effect. Judge Bolton argued that “based upon well-established precedent,” provisions such as those that require law enforcement to check legal status under reasonable suspicion are likely preempted by federal law, and thus unconstitutional. Arizona appealed the injunction but in April 2011 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the appeal.

While the legal saga around S.B. 1070 has not yet concluded and might ultimately require Supreme Court intervention, it will almost certainly be declared unconstitutional. Lawsuits have quickly spread to the other states that have passed copycat legislation. On May 4, 2011, the American Civil Liberties Union and National Immigration Law Center filed suit against Utah for the enforcement provisions in its immigration law, and within a few days a federal judge issued a temporary stay against the law. On May 25, 2011, they filed suit against Indiana, and on June 2, 2011, against Georgia. As with Arizona and Utah before them, federal judges have stayed the harshest provisions of the Indiana and Georgia laws. The ACLU and NILC have also filed suit against Alabama, and are now preparing a suit against South Carolina. It is only a matter of time before these laws are struck down as well.

A separate ruling on the 2007 Legal Arizona Workers Act, which mandates the use of the electronic employment-status verification system E-Verify for all businesses in Arizona, was found to be constitutional on May 26 of this year. But the Supreme Court made it clear that they were only ruling on a narrow point of law—the ability of states to retain their traditional role in licensing decisions—not on the overall issue of federal preemption. The ruling has little to say about the constitutionality of S.B. 1070 and legislation like it.

Arizona’s S.B. 1070 case should serve as a warning sign for other states considering anti-immigrant legislation. In just over a year since its passage, the state has already spent $1.9 million to defend lawsuits against it, prompting Gov. Jan Brewer to set up a legal defense fund to solicit contributions. That is $1.9 million expended just for the preliminary injunction and appeal—the case itself has yet to be decided.

The litigation costs around other local anti-immigrant laws are likewise instructive. The township of Hazelton, PA, passed one of the earliest local ordinances, which included fining landlords who rented to undocumented immigrants and penalizing businesses that hired undocumented immigrants. In July 2007 a district court struck down the laws, arguing that they were preempted by federal law and violated the due process protections of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. On appeal, the 3rd Circuit in September 2010 agreed with the earlier ruling, noting that under the statute, “employers might quite rationally choose to err on the side of discriminating against job applicants they perceive to be foreign,” an egregious case of injustice.

In Farmers Branch, TX, the city council passed a law requiring landlords to seek proof of legal status to rent an apartment. Four separate lawsuits were filed, including one by business owners claiming they had lost customers because of the harsh English-only ordinances that accompanied the crackdown. In January 2007 a district court ruled against the law, which Farmers Branch quickly repealed and replaced with a second. In a tragi-comical turn, after this second ordinance was declared unconstitutional, the city council passed yet another. This third ordinance was also declared unconstitutional in April 2010, proving the dictum that if at first you don’t succeed … well, in this case you will not succeed regardless.

These legal battles have come at a hefty price. Hazelton has already spent $2.8 million to defend its laws and could ultimately spend up to $5 million to fight through the appeals process. These costs arrived at the same time as a serious budget deficit, and to rectify the gaping hole in the city’s finances, Hazelton Mayor Lou Barletta proposed tax increases of, on average, $249 per homeowner. Farmers Branch likewise has paid out a hefty sum, with more than $3.7 million in legal fees already expended and total costs which are estimated to top $5 million.

Conclusion: A better solution?

On their surface, crackdowns against undocumented immigrants sound appealing to state legislators looking to get tough on immigration. But the hidden costs in legal fees, training fees, additional personnel, and lost tourist revenue, among others, all add up quickly.

So can your state afford anti-immigrant legislation? Definitely not.

There is a better solution. Instead of going the Arizona route and attempting to kick out all undocumented immigrants in your state, why not bring them into the legal system and ensure they can fully contribute economically? In Arizona alone, full legalization would create jobs, increase state revenue, and raise the wages of all workers. Full legalization would grow tax revenues in the state by $1.68 billion, add 261,000 jobs, and increase total employment by 7.7 percent.

As Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda and Marshall Fitz argue in their recent report, “A Rising Tide or a Shrinking Pie: The Economic Impact of Legalization Versus Deportation in Arizona,” “if state legislators really intend to promote the best interests of their constituents, they should reject these counterproductive deportation initiatives and focus instead on holding their federal counterparts responsible for reforming our immigration laws.” Sound words, especially since a comprehensive immigration reform program on the federal level, which includes a legalization program for undocumented workers, would:

  • Add $1.5 trillion to America’s gross domestic product over the next 10 years by raising average wages for immigrants and native-born Americans alike
  • Increase net tax revenues: $4.5 to $5.4 billion in the first three years
  • Support the creation of a significant number of new jobs

These gains accrue by bringing undocumented workers out of the shadows and making them equal partners in economic growth.

Now those are numbers we can all live with.

Angela M. Kelley is Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress. Philip E. Wolgin is an Immigration Policy Analyst at the Center. The authors would like to acknowledge Ann Garcia, Research Assistant for Immigration Policy, and Maya Edelstein, Intern in Immigration Policy, for their reserach and editing assistance.

Download this brief (pdf)

Read the full brief in your web browser

July 3, 2011

7/2 – 11Alive – Immigration rally at Georgia’s capitol | 11alive.com

Immigration rally at Georgia’s capitol | 11alive.com.

7:32 AM, Jul 3, 2011  |   comments

Immigration Law Protest Rally

Thousands protested the new immigration law in Georgia

 

ATLANTA — Thousands of protesters marched around the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta Saturday to demonstrate against a tough new law designed to combat illegal immigration.

Opponents say the law sets up a hostile environment for people of color and those in search of a better life.

Capitol police and organizers estimated that between 8,000 and 14,000 protesters gathered. They filled several blocks holding signs decrying House Bill 87 and reading “Immigration Reform Now!”

Saturday’s rally follows a “day without immigrants,” when some parts of the law took effect. It was organized by the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. The organization asked businesses to close and community members not to work or shop to protest the law.

A judge has temporarily blocked key parts of the law until a legal challenge is resolved.

 

July 3, 2011

7/2 – CBSAtlanta(VIDEO) – Latino activists rally against immigration law – CBS Atlanta News, Weather, Sports, Traffic – WGCL 46

Latino activists rally against immigration law – CBS Atlanta News, Weather, Sports, Traffic – WGCL 46.

Posted: Jul 02, 2011 7:49 AM EDT Updated: Jul 03, 2011 8:06 AM EDT

ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) –

Georgia’s Latino community came out in large numbers Saturday at the state capitol to protest the implementation of Georgia’s new immigration law.

A federal judge last week banned some of the provision’s more stringent measures, but foes say the court ruling didn’t go far enough.

Organizers said several thousand people attended the rally and many were from other states.

Activists are calling for immigration reform, and an end to what they term as a “climate of hate” currently existing in the state.

On Friday they urged Latinos not to work or shop in local businesses to illustrate their economic power.

July 3, 2011

7/2 – Fox5 – Thousands Rally Against Ga. Immigration Law

Thousands Rally Against Ga. Immigration Law.

  • Advertisement

Thousands Rally Against Ga. Immigration Law

Updated: Saturday, 02 Jul 2011, 3:54 PM EDT
Published : Saturday, 02 Jul 2011, 3:54 PM EDT

ATLANTA – Thousands of marchers stormed the Georgia Capitol on Saturday to protest the state’s new immigration law, which they say creates an unwelcome environment for people of color and those in search of a better life.

Men, women and children of all ages converged on downtown Atlanta for the march and rally, cheering speakers while shading themselves with umbrellas and posters. Capitol police and organizers estimated the crowd at between 8,000 and 14,000. They filled the blocks around the Capitol, holding signs decrying House Bill 87 and reading “Immigration Reform Now!”

Friends Jessica Bamaca and Melany Cordero held a poster that read: “How would you feel if your family got broken apart?”

Bamaca was born in the U.S., but her mother and sister are from Guatemala. She said she fears they will be deported.

“I would be here by myself,” said Bamaca, 13. “I have a feeling (the governor) doesn’t know the pain affecting families. If he were to be in our position, how would he react?”

Adelina Nicholls, executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, said the crowd was sending a message.

“They are ready to fight,” Nicholls said. “We need immigration reform, and no HB87 is going to stop us. We have earned the right to be here.”

Azadeh Shahshahani of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia called the rally inspiring and said she hoped lawmakers would recognize the law’s potential to damage the state.

“I think it’s going to have an impact,” she said. “Unfortunately, the damage has already been done as far as people of color having second thoughts about moving to Georgia.”

Several different groups stood with the largely Latino crowd, including representatives from the civil rights movement. The Rev. Timothy McDonald, an activist who has been supportive of immigration protesters, was among the speakers showing his solidarity.

“You are my brothers and my sisters,” McDonald told the crowd. “Some years ago, they told people like me we couldn’t vote. We did what you are doing today. We are going to send a message to the powers that be … that when the people get united, there is no government that can stop them. Don’t let them turn you around.”

MiLi Lai, a student at Emory who is Chinese, also attended the rally because the immigration law doesn’t just apply to Latinos, but “all non-American people.”

“We are the same community,” Lai said. “We have to fight for our rights.”

Bellanira Avoytes came to the rally with her husband and three children. Although she is a legal resident and her children were born in Georgia, she does not see herself as separate from undocumented Latinos.

“I have family who are not residents,” she said. “I am together with the Latin people. I love Georgia. I have stayed here for 18 years. I want to buy a house here.”

Saturday’s rally follows a “day without immigrants” organized Friday, when some parts of the law took effect. It was organized by the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. The organization asked businesses to close and community members not to work or shop to protest the law.

On Monday, a judge temporarily blocked key parts of the law until a legal challenge is resolved. One provision that was blocked authorizes police to check the immigration status of suspects without proper identification. It also authorizes them to detain illegal immigrants. Another penalizes people who knowingly and willingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants while committing another crime.

Parts of similar measures in Arizona, Utah and Indiana also have been blocked by the courts.

Provisions that took effect Friday include one that makes it a felony to use false information or documentation when applying for a job. Another provision creates an immigration review board to investigate complaints about government officials not complying with state laws related to illegal immigration.

July 3, 2011

7/2 – WSBTV (Video) – Protesters Rally Outside Immigration Office Over HB 87 – News Story – WSB Atlanta

Protesters Rally Outside Immigration Office Over HB 87 – News Story – WSB Atlanta.

Thousands of people turned out Saturday to turn up the heat against Georgia’s new immigration law.Two days into the new law, protesters are calling for an end to it.Marchers walked boldly by the Immigration and Customs office in downtown Atlanta. But in the crowd there was plenty of fear.Some fear the new law will leave families divided. “If they deport their parents then who are we going to have to take care of us? We can’t take care of ourselves,” protester Hector Badillo said.There is also fear even legal residents will be unfairly treated. “This is the first time I feel I’ve been targeted because of how I look. It’s been very uncomfortable and sometimes I don’t feel secure,” Jose Sotomayor said.Various Latino groups have held rallies for months to protest House Bill 87, and organizers will admit there’s nothing different about Saturday’s march. The hope is to send a consistent message that they’re not going away.“These people work very, very hard. They get paid less than the minimum wage; they stay quiet about it because it was their only choice. They come here to work basically. They come here to work,” Gigi Penaflower said.Supporters of the law say that’s part of the problem. Undocumented workers let businesses get away with lowering wages, leaving no incentive to hire legal residents.“There are a lot of people out there that are desperate to feed their family. Desperate to put food on the table. People will do just about anything when times are tough,” State Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, said.Under the new law, many businesses will have to check an employee’s ability to work, and it is a felony to falsify documents to try to get around the system. But what some see as fair, others see as discrimination and hate.“This law clearly tells us there not welcoming immigrants,” James Kim said.While the crowd is lashing out on HB 87, several of the people in the crowd told Channel 2 Action News much of this should really be directed toward the federal government to create an easier channel for immigrants to register and work legally in the U.S.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers

%d bloggers like this: