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Immigration Pushed To The Forefront Again.... Thanks! To Everyone Who Has Propelled This Issue To Its' Rightful Position. Years Of Hard Work Are Paying Off.....Keep Up The Good Work!......
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:14 PM
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Default Georgia takes action on immigration as Congress stalls

Georgia takes action on immigration as Congress stalls
With Congress seemingly incapable of reshaping immigration policy — the latest example being the stalemate over the DREAM Act — many states, including Georgia, are increasingly stepping into the breach. Georgia is aggressive,” said Bryan Griffith, spokesman for the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, which favors tough measures to expel and repel illegal immigrants. “There are tools, and Georgia is using them.”
Georgia is among about 10 states seriously studying the law adopted in Arizona, the most aggressive in the country. It directs local police to enforce federal immigration laws and imposes severe penalties on businesses that hire illegal workers.
Georgia is No. 6 in the country for “unauthorized” immigrants, with an estimated 480,000 living in the state, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. More than two-thirds of Georgians support restrictions similar to those enacted in Arizona, according to a poll commissioned by the Georgia Newspaper Partnership.
Gold Dome lawmakers already have adopted laws to prevent illegal immigrants from driving cars, and counties across metro Atlanta participate in a federal fingerprint-sharing program aimed at deporting criminal illegal immigrants. Participating counties include Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett and Hall.
Georgia Republicans are prepping for an all-out push on the issue when the Legislature convenes next month. They have pre-filed two bills — to prevent illegals from attending Georgia’s public colleges and to block their employment by state and county governments — and formed a special committee charged with drafting comprehensive laws to stem illegal immigration.
“Washington’s failure to get ahead on this issue has forced states like Georgia to take action,” said Gov.-elect Nathan Deal’s spokesman, Brian Robinson. “It is a priority.”
Groups who advocate for immigrants, meanwhile, are bracing for a fight. They say they know what’s coming.
“They took the Arizona legislation, they tweaked a couple of words, and they’ve got it ready to go,” said Charles Kuck, a Sandy Springs immigration attorney. “Let’s not get carried away with some plan that doesn’t solve any problems, creates more chaos than it solves, doesn’t have any long-term solution, and they don’t have the money to enforce.”
Last week in Washington, the House passed the DREAM Act, which would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children and who fulfill certain requirements, such as serving in the military or graduating from college. Senate leaders pulled the bill from consideration when it became clear that they did not have the votes to pass it. They have said they plan to bring it to a vote this week, but prospects for passage remain uncertain.
Among states, however, the political landscape often permits more decisive action. In the first six months of this year, 44 state legislatures passed 191 laws regarding immigrants and illegal immigration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Georgia is among several states that have barred illegal immigrants from receiving in-state college tuition; others are Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Lawmakers in at least 14 states are working on legislation to deny U.S. citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants. Georgia’s legislative committee intends to study such a measure. Under federal law, children born in this country are automatically given U.S. citizenship by the 14th Amendment, even if their parents are here illegally.
Despite widespread support in Georgia for Arizona-style measures, that law has proven tricky to enforce.
After a challenge by the Obama administration, a federal judge blocked the part of the law that requires police to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws. Another provision, which imposes penalties on businesses that hire illegal immigrants, is being argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Critics of the Arizona law say it is unconstitutional and promotes racial profiling. They say the costs of enforcement would be excessive.
Edward Alden, a researcher for the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, said that, from a national perspective, problems could arise from having a patchwork of state-by-state laws.
“There’s some evidence Arizona law is driving people away,” he said. The result, he said, for “neighboring, more tolerant states” would be overcrowding of public facilities such as schools and hospitals.
But that’s exactly what some proponents of aggressive state measures envision. In an ideal world, they said, the federal government would vigorously enforce laws against illegal immigration. Absent that, states can adopt measures designed to push illegal residents beyond their borders.
“People make a rational choice,” said Griffith of the Center for Immigration Studies. “The state won’t have to deal with them, won’t have to find them. They’ll move out on their own.”
In Georgia, Republican lawmakers are closely watching the Arizona fight, but they are hardly waiting for its outcome to draft their own proposals. The Republicans, who dominate both the state House and Senate, will have a new ally in a governor who campaigned on bringing an Arizona-style law to Georgia.
They may face opposition from some traditional Republican allies, however. Immigrants are a vital source of labor for such important state industries as agriculture and construction, and business groups have objected to measures that would force employers to electronically verify each worker’s U.S. citizenship.
The Georgia Farm Bureau recently adopted a policy that says the organization opposes “any immigration law that discriminates against the farm worker and puts the farmers of Georgia at a disadvantage to farmers in other states.”
“It would devastate Georgia’s economy,” said Jerry Gonzalez of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials. “It would be a job-destroyer.”
But advocates for more enforcement say that over time, the measures would save money.
In Gwinnett County, Sheriff Butch Conway said the program to identify illegal immigrants among county jail inmates, which has been in place for about a year, has saved the county millions of dollars and freed up space in the jail. The Gwinnett program has resulted in 1,400 deportations.
The special committee on immigration expects to have proposals ready by January, said co-chairman Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City.
“We’re still very much in the information-gathering mode,” Ramsey said, noting that committee members are still soliciting information from law enforcement, businesses and immigration activists on both sides of the issue. “We are acutely aware of the costs of the problems that are posed, and we’re going to take into consideration the cost of enforcement as well.”
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