Rep. Ramsey gets his illegal immigrant bill signed into law
WIth several swift flicks of a pen, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal May 13 approved the immigration reforms negotiated in an eleventh-hour deal between the two chambers of the Georgia Legislature.
The measure is aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from gaining employment, and it also allows law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of persons being investigated for misdemeanor crimes and traffic stops.
Currently, the federal government is only deporting illegal immigrants arrested for felony offenses, but the checks will allow Georgia to get a more accurate handle on the problem, said the bill’s author, Republican Matt Ramsey of Peachtree City.
Critics have argued that the latter provision, extending the existing law that allows immigration checks for those booked on felony charges, will force illegal immigrants to flee the state. There have also been accusations from numerous fronts that the law is unconstitutional.
Regardless, Deal in a press release said Georgia has been paying the “enormous expense” for having the sixth-highest number of illegal residents in the United States.
“Those who claim that this law will have a negative financial impact on Georgia completely ignore the billions of dollars Georgians have spent on our schools, our hospitals, our courtrooms and our jails because of people who are in our state illegally,” Deal said in the release.
The provision of the bill aimed at eliminating illegal immigrants from gaining employment here will be enforced on companies with 10 or more employees, and the restrictions will first start on the largest companies, with smaller companies gradually phased-in.
The bill also is aimed at withholding public tax “benefits” from being spent on illegal immigrants, a whole laundry list of items including the following, according to a recent ruling from the Georgia Attorney General’s Office:
• Adult education;
• Business certificate, license or registration; also to include occupational and professional licenses;
• Health benefits;
• Housing allowance, grant, guarantee or loan;
• Disability assistance or insurance;
• Rent assistance or subsidy;
• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF);
• State identification card; and
• State grant or loan.
By federal law, Georgia cannot deny access to K-12 schools and also emergency medical care to illegal immigrants, he noted.
Ramsey said Georgia has nearly 500,000 illegal aliens. He has argued the bill is not only constitutional, but also “the strongest and most aggressive in the country.”
“This is not simply an immigration issues, but also a problem that burdens our state’s schools, healthcare system and law enforcement community,” Ramsey said in a written statement. “Georgia’s taxpayers have demanded action to enforce the rule of law and, where the federal government has failed, their state government has listened and delivered.”
The bill also creates worries of potential “very serious civil and human rights abuses that will also likely follow if HB87 is fully implemented,” said Jerry Gonzalez, the executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.
Gonzalez, in a news release, also pointed to severe consequences to the state’s agriculture industry, which he said “relies heavily on undocumented immigrants for manual labor.”
“The intent of HB 87 is to spread fear and confusion within the immigrant community; with your help, that will not happen,” Gonzalez said as he directly addressed the Latino and immigrant community.