Illegal Immigration Bills Piling Up Under Gold Dome – 11Alive.com | WXIA | Atlanta, GA

Illegal Immigration Bills Piling Up Under Gold Dome – 11Alive.com | WXIA | Atlanta, GA

Posted By –  Paul Crawley

Last Updated On:  2/3/2011 7:58:41 PM

ATLANTA — “The question is a very simple one: do you want immigration reform or do you not want immigration reform?” asked State Senator Jack Murphy (R-Cumming).

Sen. Murphy was joined by several other conservative Republican lawmakers as he introduced the second of two Arizona-style immigration laws at the State Capitol on Thursday.

His SB 40 closely mirrors the similar HB 87 already introduced in the State House by Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City).

Both would allow local police to check the citizenship of anyone they arrest for another crime and would impose penalties on employers, both public and private, who don’t check their workers’ citizenship thorough the federal E-verify program.

With Georgia’s illegal immigrant population ranked 7th in the nation, sponsors say it’s time to stop illegals from taking jobs and tax benefits from Georgians.

Hispanic, Asian and other minority groups are prepared to oppose what they call a blatant attempt at racial profiling.

They also claim the E-verify system is full of errors and could wrongly target some who are here legally.

“So far, I think there are 17 million flaws in the data base that they’ll be cross-referencing to verify someone who is a citizen,” said attorney Bryan Ramos of the Asian-American Legal Advocacy Center.

Republican Governor Nathan Deal, who campaigned heavily against illegal immigration, admits the issue is not as simple as it seems.

He says state lawmakers should be careful not to overstep their bounds.

“I don’t want us to do something just for show,” the governor said in response to the bills. “I want us to do what a state can legitimately do within its jurisdiction to be able to address some of the concerns.”

Many worry about how a crackdown might affect the state’s largest industry, agriculture, which brings in $65 billion a year.

“At a time when we are facing a very tough economy, when we need all hands on deck, I would question the wisdom of passing legislation that would impact the agriculture industry in the State of Georgia,” said Atlanta Mayor and former Democratic State lawmaker Kasim Reed.

Lawmakers are also considering bills to require an English-only driver’s license test and to keep illegal immigrants from collecting any workers compensation benefits if injured on the job.

Rep. Ramsey’s HB 87 will face its first hearing before the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee at the State Capitol on Friday morning.

Georgia is one of 15 states considering immigration laws similar to Arizona’s, which has been partly struck down by a federal judge.

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