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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Georgia Panel Advances Arizona-style Crackdown On Illegal Aliens

In recent years, several thousand people have marched through downtown Atlanta in support of immigration reform.
n recent years, several thousand people
have marched through downtown Atlanta
in support of immigration reform.
By Jeremy Redmon, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia moved one step closer Monday to mounting an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration . . .  Like Arizona’s tough new law, House Bill 87 authorizes police to verify the immigration status of certain suspects. It also empowers police to detain these suspects and take them to jail, if authorities determine they are in the country illegally.

Additionally, the newly revised bill penalizes people who “willfully and fraudulently” use fake identification to get a job in Georgia. Such people could be charged with a felony -- aggravated identity fraud -- and face up to 15 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines under the bill.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City, said he hopes his bill could come before the House Rules Committee and then go to the House floor for a vote this week. . . .Ramsey and others have complained illegal immigrants are sapping taxpayer-funded resources in Georgia. His bill includes language prohibiting police from using race and national origin while enforcing its provisions. 

Similar legislation -- Senate Bill 40 -- is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. That bill’s author, Republican Sen. Jack Murphy of Cumming, pulled much of the teeth out of that legislation when he introduced a revised version last week. There are at least six other immigration-related bills pending in the Statehouse now. Meanwhile, supporters of some of this legislation are seeking to pressure Gov. Nathan Deal to live up to his campaign promises and support bringing an Arizona-style law here.

. . . On Monday, Ramsey said the new provision in his bill aimed at illegal immigrants using fake identification could serve as a deterrent. “It is just another tool we are giving prosecutors,” Ramsey told the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on Monday before it approved his bill. Called the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, HB 87 also would punish certain people who knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants here. And it empowers people to sue local and state government officials who don't enforce existing state laws aimed at illegal immigration.

Ramsey's newly revised legislation gives state and local government officials up to 30 days to move into compliance with existing state laws targeting illegal immigration before someone could sue them for violations. The added 30-day “cure period” is meant to prevent frivolous lawsuits, Ramsey said.

Also Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee postponed a hearing on another immigration-related bill -- Senate Bill 27 -- to give the sponsor time to review a softer substitute version that has been introduced. The substitute includes substantial changes to the original, which seeks to toughen existing laws aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from getting jobs in Georgia. The sponsor of SB 27, Republican Sen. Judson Hill of Marietta, said Monday he did not know who had introduced the substitute. . . . [Full Story]

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