Issues to watch as lawmakers return to Atlanta | ajc.com

Issues to watch as lawmakers return to Atlanta  | ajc.com

Metro Atlanta / State News 5:00 a.m. Sunday, January 9, 2011

Immigration

Fed up with inaction in Washington, Georgia state lawmakers are seeking to crack down on illegal immigration this year with a raft of legislation.

They have already filed two bills toward that goal, seeking to bar illegal immigrants from attending state colleges and block government contractors from hiring them.

But the Republican co-chairmen of a special study committee on immigration plan to introduce more legislation in both chambers in the coming days. And those bills are likely to include incentives encouraging more communities to apply to join a federal immigration enforcement program called 287(g).

The bills are also expected to include measures to ensure the forms of identification people use to get public benefits in Georgia are “secure and verifiable.” The legislation could also include provisions to toughen an existing law requiring state and local government contractors to verify their employees’ eligibility to work in the United States.

Some Democratic lawmakers have warned the study committee against doing anything that would scare immigrants away and hurt Georgia’s $65 billion agricultural industry, which relies on immigrant labor. The Georgia Farm Bureau has asserted that illegal immigration is a “federal issue, not a state or local issue. Jeremy Redmon

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