4/12 – Latin American Herald Tribune – Concern in Georgia Over Progress of Arizona-Style Migrant Law

Latin American Herald Tribune – Concern in Georgia Over Progress of Arizona-Style Migrant Law.

Tuesday, April 12,2011

ATLANTA – Immigrants’ rights groups in Georgia on Tuesday expressed concern over the progress through the state legislature of a bill they see as a clone of Arizona’s SB1070, a measure aiming at criminalizing undocumented migrants.

The state Senate has until Thursday, when this year’s legislative session ends, to approve the House version of HB87, or – if it is rejected – to convene a bicameral committee to reconcile the two drafts.

“The best thing that could happen is for them to give up approving this bill or for them to run out of time, but we’re going to continue to watch very closely what happens in the House of Representatives with HB87 and we’re going to make calls to the governor if it is approved,” Adelina Nicholls, executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, told Efe.

The version of HB87 approved on Monday by the Senate eliminates the provision that demanded that companies use the federal E-Verify system to ascertain the immigration status of their employees, a feature considered to be one of the bill’s pillars in the lower house.

In addition, senators opted to limit the powers of the police to inquire into the immigration status of people detained for traffic violations.

“By eliminating the demand for electronic verification the concern of businessmen is gone. However, there still exists the deep concern over the persecution and criminalization that the immigrant community is going to suffer simply over the fact that a person (may have) a suspicious appearance,” Nicholls said.

Georgia’s powerful farm sector, which generates more than $68 billion a year, has been outspoken in its opposition to E-Verify provision of the bill.

The Senate also amended a clause in HB87 that would mandate sanctions for people who harbor or transport undocumented migrants.

This week several civil organizations and religious leaders sent a letter to lawmakers warning them about the consequences that this measure could have on the labor performed by the immigrant community.

“We’re concerned about the penalization of non-profit organizations or of anyone who helps, transports or cares for the undocumented community. It’s like if it doesn’t affect us from one side, it does so from the other,” Nicholls said.

Meanwhile, Azadeh Shahshahani, director of the National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, also expressed concern over the consequences of approving the bill.

“We’re very disappointed and concerned about this bill’s implications for civil liberties and if it passes it’s going to make Georgia into a ‘show me your papers’ region and it’s going to foster the practice of racial profiling on the part of the authorities,” she told Efe. EFE

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