3/30 – AJC- Senate panel passes immigration enforcement bill | ajc.com

Senate panel passes immigration enforcement bill  | ajc.com.

 

Georgia Politics 6:55 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Arizona-style legislation targeting illegal immigration in Georgia moved a step closer to becoming law Wednesday when it narrowly won the endorsement of a key Senate panel.

State troopers estimated a crowd of at least 5,000 filled the street in front of the state Capitol for a March 24 rally against proposed legislation targeting illegal immigrants.

Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com State troopers estimated a crowd of at least 5,000 filled the street in front of the state Capitol for a March 24 rally against proposed legislation targeting illegal immigrants.

By a vote of 5-4, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 87, but with some substantial revisions. Among other things, the committee deleted a provision that would empower Georgia residents to sue state or local government officials who fail to enforce state laws targeting illegal immigration.

Other revisions relate to requirements for certain businesses to confirm their newly hired employees are eligible to work in the U.S. The committee added a provision that says employers would not be eligible for certain state income tax breaks unless they use a federal work authorization program called E-Verify.

The bill now goes to the Senate floor for consideration. Georgia’s House passed a similar measure this month. Because the Senate version is different, it must get approval from both chambers before it could go to the governor’s desk and become law.

Like a tough new law enacted in Arizona last year, HB 87 would empower police to question certain suspects about their immigration status. It also would penalize certain people who harbor or transport illegal immigrants.

Critics of HB 87 accused the Senate committee of quickly acting on the legislation Wednesday without notifying the public in advance. The bill was not listed on the committee agenda that was posted on the state Legislature‘s website Wednesday.

Committee Chairman Bill Hamrick, R-Carrollton, issued a prepared statement Wednesday, saying his panel had “held numerous meetings on this issue, ensuring the familiarity of our members with these proposals.”

“Illegal immigration is a costly crisis that places an undue burden on Georgia families,” he said. “We have worked diligently for the past year to produce comprehensive, economical and enforceable reform of our immigration system.”

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