5/9 – USA Today – Will tough new Georgia immigration law keep visitors away? – USATODAY.com

Will tough new Georgia immigration law keep visitors away? – USATODAY.com.

By Laura Bly, USA TODAYThat’s the concern of tourism promoters, who worry that a measure patterned after Arizona’s controversial law could lead to similar cancellations in the Peach State.

By Michael A. Schwarz, USAT

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign Georgia’s bill into law this week. The legislation would allow police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects, and punish those who transport or harbor illegal immigrants in the state. Supporters say illegal immigrants are straining the resources of state schools, hospitals and jails, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and they point to a recent Pew Hispanic Center estimate that says Georgia is home to 425,000 illegal immigrants – more than those in Arizona.

But opponents, including the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, fear that Georgia could suffer “the same economic impacts that Arizona felt last year after enacting the nation’s toughest immigration enforcement law,” says the Journal-Constitution.

According to the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association, the Grand Canyon State has lost about 40 conventions since the law passed, even though a federal judge blocked major portions of the Arizona legislation before it could take effect. A study released last fall by the Center for American Progress, a liberal policy group that opposes Arizona’s immigration law, estimates that canceled conventions have cost the state $141 million in direct spending, along with 2,761 jobs and $9.4 million in tax revenue.

Elsewhere, the Florida legislature adjourned Saturday without an agreement on a tough immigration bill sought by the governor and attorney general. And a civil rights group has filed for a preliminary injunction to block a Utah immigration law slated to take effect Tuesday.

Posted May 9 2011 11:00AM

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