The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
WASHINGTON — A group of Mexican senators announced Tuesday they are preparing to meet with state legislators in Georgia and four other states next month, hoping to head off more stringent immigration laws like the one Georgia enacted this year.
The senators plan to share information with state lawmakers that shows illegal immigrants generally stay out of trouble and contribute to the economy while they are here.Sen. Carlos Jimenez Macias, a member of the Mexican Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, confirmed those plans Tuesday at a workshop on immigration reform in D.C. at the German Marshall Fund, a nonpartisan public policy institution.
Macias said the author of Georgia’s House Bill 87 — Republican state Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City — is among the legislators he and his delegation want to meet next month.
The Mexican senators also plan to meet with state lawmakers in Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina and Utah, which have enacted similar immigration enforcement measures.
For Macias, the issue is personal. He said he illegally entered the United States when he was 17 to find work and lived for a time in Chicago.
“I know what the illegal immigrants feel here in the United States,” he said.
Ramsey said Tuesday he had not received a request to meet with Macias.
“However, I would welcome the opportunity to meet and hear their concerns and share with them our concerns that motivated us to draft legislation aimed at addressing the issues posed in Georgia by illegal immigration,” Ramsey said.
Macias’ announcement comes after the Mexican ambassador to the United States condemned an early draft of HB 87 in February, saying it was “poisoning” the relationship between the two countries. The Mexican government filed court papers in June in support of efforts to halt HB 87.
Supporters of HB 87 complain illegal immigrants are straining taxpayer-funded resources in Georgia, including schools and prisons. HB 87 seeks to deter illegal immigrants from coming to Georgia by cutting off their access to jobs and public benefits. A federal judge in Atlanta put parts of the law on hold in June amid court challenges. The state is appealing.
Another Mexican senator, Ruben Velazquez Lopez, said he didn’t want to see the “problem of anti-immigrant laws” to be “Mexicanized.”
“This is something that affects all the illegals in the United States,” he said. “And they are from many nations. Not all. But certainly many. Our fellow countrymen are part of the total.”