Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Georgia Goes Where Others Won't: Immigration

Not content to simply sit on the sidelines and watch the current federal fracas on immigration, the state of Georgia has enacted its own legislation.  The controversial new law seeks to deny services to so called illegal immigrants.

NYT Link

ATLANTA, April 17 -- Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a sweeping immigration bill on Monday that supporters and critics say gives Georgia some of the nation's toughest measures against illegal immigrants.

The law requires verification that adults who seek many state-administered benefits are in the United States legally. Employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants face sanctions, and companies with state contracts must check employees' immigration status.

And, of course, the police will be under a similar duty.

The law also requires that the police check the status of people they arrest.

Such a provision seems designed to ease the inception of national identity cards.  (I'm reminded of countless old movies where individuals were requested to produce their "papers".)

There was swift public reaction from those on both sides of the issue.

The bill drew demonstrators on both sides at the Capitol here and prompted a daylong work stoppage by thousands of immigrants.

The Mexican government stated its own concerns.


MEXICO CITY, April 18 (Xinhua) -- The Mexican government criticized the U.S. state of Georgia on Tuesday for approving a law which imposed heavier penalties on undocumented migrants and made new demands on employers.

Ruben Aguilar, spokesman for Mexican President Vicente Fox, told reporters that Mexico was worried that the law, "part of Georgia's legal arrangement," discriminated against Mexicans.

At least the provision of emergency services will remain unchanged.  The governor had this cheery attempt at reassurance.

Governor Perdue, a Republican, said at the signing: "I want to make this clear -- we are not, Georgia's government is not, and this bill is not, anti-immigrant. We simply believe that everyone who lives in our state needs to abide by our laws."

Yeah, right.


The governor's official press release is here.


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