5/16 – WRDW – Hispanic groups say Georgia’s new immigration law targets them

Local Hispanic groups say Georgia’s new immigration law targets them.

Posted: 6:09 PM May 16, 2011

Local Hispanic groups say Georgia’s new immigration law targets them
It’s been in the works for months but Georgia’s new immigration crack down is now a law and will take effect this summer. The deal may be inked, but that doesn’t mean Hispanic groups are happy about it.

Reporter: Katie Beasley
Email Address: katie.beasley@wrdw.com

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News 12 at 6 o’clock, Monday, May 16, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga.—It’s been in the works for months but Georgia’s new immigration crack down is now a law and will take effect this summer.

The deal may be inked, but that doesn’t mean Hispanic groups are happy about it.

Most Hispanic immigrants, legal or not, say the new bill is targeting them and in one way or another, many plan to act.

Pastor Angel Maestre says his 200 person congregation was buzzing on Sunday with the news of the new immigration law.

“People were very discouraged about the whole thing, people were asking many questions, people are worried,” says Pastor Angel Maestre, at Oasis de Bendición Hispanic Church.

They’re worried, because starting July 1st, law enforcement in Georgia will have the power to ask for legal papers, when someone is already stopped for an offense.

“The law has given the right to the police people to stop these kind of faces so we’ve been targeted. We are the target,” explains Angel.

“Just the perception that police have the right to do that has a lot of immigrants very afraid and making plans to leave the state,” adds Attorney Paul Balducci, who specializes in immigration law.

Protesters have been a constant around Georgia’s capital for months. Closer to home, Hispanic leaders say it won’t be long before Georgia’s economy feels the Hispanic absence.

“They may not pay taxes per se, but you see illegal immigrants at Walmart, Target, Best Buy,” says Enrique Romero of Eco-Latino Magazine. “These are people who work hard, play hard and spend hard.”

“I think that a lot of people are not anti-immigrant, they are definitely anti-illegal immigration and that’s very understandable, we want the laws to be enforced,” says Balducci.

“Do I condone this action? No, not at all but if I had to go somewhere else to make a living for my family so that they would survive… I would and I think probably the average person would do it also,” adds Romero.

While some may be leaving, others like Angel, are planning other ways to get pro-active. “We need to get prepared, get educated, get the information,” says Angel.

Leaders say law enforcement was already reporting illegal citizens if they were arrested for a crime, but now that will go a step further. The new law also requires employers use a new e-verify computer system to confirm a new hire is a legal citizen.

The new law is similar to Arizona’s immigration law, only less aggressive. Arizona’s law calls illegal immigrants trespassers. It’s been overturned by a 9th Circuit of Appeals. We’ll have to wait to see if Georgia faces similar legal action.

Governor Nathan Deal is defending the law, saying it will help Georgia’s economy. He says Georgia has the 6th highest number of people living illegally in this country, and that means you end up footing their bill.

“Illegal immigration places an incredible burden on Georgia tax payers with an illegal population estimated to be almost one half million the collective cost to our educational, health care and correctional infrastructure is in the billions,” says Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.

State Representative Matt Ramsey authored the bill and said Georgia had to act because the federal government wasn’t doing anything about the problem.


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