Georgia Adopts Tough Stance Against Illegal Immigration

July 7, 2011

Like many people from Northern Virginia, I’ve often resisted the label of being called a Southerner. Yes, Virginia did secede with the Confederacy during the Civil War. And yes, many of our roadways are named after Confederate generals and military folk. But, being from Northern Virginia, the idea of Southern hospitality and gentle mien is as foreign to us as discretion is for the unfortunately named Anthony Weiner.

I was in Atlanta, GA, during Independence Day weekend for a wedding, and was given a full dose of Southern comforts and colloquialisms. Between welcome bags containing loaves of homemade banana bread and a bridal luncheon at a quaint little place called the Swan Coach House, I was quite overwhelmed by the charms of these Southern ladies.

But while I was maneuvering between various delightful events and venues, civil rights groups were grappling with quite a different sort of Southern hospitality that weekend.

Georgia General Assembly’s proposed House Bill 87, called HB87, aims to be enacted as the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011.” On Friday, parts of the new law aimed at cracking down on the state’s problems with illegal immigration took effect. These measures include:

- Making it a felony to use fake identification to get employment; violators could face up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

- Officials who violate state laws requiring local and state government agencies to use the federal E-Verify work authorization program could be removed from office and face fines up to $10,000.

- Creation of a seven-member Immigration Enforcement Review Board to investigate complaints about government officials violating state laws related to immigration.

Taking effect on January 1 are provisions to require state and local government agencies to check for federally issued identification on people who apply for public benefits, such as food stamps and business licenses. Gradually phased in will be measures requiring Georgia businesses of various sizes to use E-Verify on their new hires. Businesses with 500 or more employees must start complying on January 1, while businesses employing between 100 and 500 persons won’t start until July 1 of next year.

Well, how precious is that? Oh, that famous Southern hospitality, making everyone feel welcome!

Key parts of the law were temporarily blocked until a legal challenge is resolved, including provisions to authorize police to check the immigration status of suspects without proper identification and to detain illegal immigrants. Also blocked was a measure to penalize people who knowingly transport or harbor undocumented persons while committing another crime. Similar provisions in Arizona, Utah and Indiana also have been blocked by the courts.

But let’s be honest. It doesn’t matter how many provisions are legally challenged or blocked by a judge. Georgia’s HB 87 reflects a national trend of states taking their own initiative to deal with immigration reform. It’s a bit disheartening to see states try, again and again and again, to give law enforcement officials the prerogative to check immigration statuses of suspects when the precedence makes it quite clear that it is not constitutional.

Immigration reform is sorely needed, yes. But that should be a matter left up to the federal government, not done in ragged piecemeal by state, and especially not with language that allows police to make legal immigrants or citizens of a racial minority feel unwelcome or threatened. Many of us look in the mirror and feel ‘other’ enough; there is absolutely no place in our great nation to make that into a law.

Other reading:

Georgia Immigration Law: Thousands Protest For Reform At State Capitol

Thousands Rally Against Georgia Immigration Law

[photo credit: AP]




Americans have every right to demand immigration law be enforced, just as they have every right to resent the people who came here illegally. They are dealing with a federal government that sold them out so to serve the interests of business and pressure groups. . If you want to blame anyone, blame those who abused southern hospitality. . If you are concerned about legality, then maybe you should think of the millions who played by the rules. It would be the hospitable thing to do.
Unfortunately LTE's comment grossly oversimplifies the issue and also ignores the basic fact of it being unconstitutional. (S)he talks about fairness to ''the millions who played by the rules'', as if these ridiculous laws will help them out. What about people getting discriminated against who are non-citizens but are still in the U.S. legally (ie: tourist visas and greencard holders)? These types of people are more vulnerable to biased treatment once their non-citizen status is known.. not to mention racial profiling. Let's be real, who do you think is going to get their status checked the most? (small hint: not the ''Joe the Plumber'' type. lol) The author of this article has valid points and did a good job bringing attention to this issue.
"What about people getting discriminated against who are non-citizens but are still in the U.S. legally (ie: tourist visas and greencard holders)? These types of people are more vulnerable to biased treatment once their non-citizen status is known.. not to mention racial profiling." . First, I am a he. . Crying racism is the last redoubt of hypocrisy (please note your Joe the Plumber comment as an example of it). . There are millions in this country that have over stayed their visas, sneaked in under the cover of the dark at the night and then served the interests of businesses looking for labor on the cheap. These people are not people who had taken their daughter for an ice cream on a Sunday afternoon and accidentally fell over the border. . These people willfully and intentionally ignored our law to benefit themselves and to a good degree do it at the expense of legal citizens. Media rarely likes to ask how much does these people cost Americans. . If the issue is racial at all, it is because large numbers of certain groups decided to help themselves. It is evident you understand race and do some profiling yourself going by your Joe the Plumber comment. You meant those toothless hillbillies that come down from the hills wearing red, white and blue. . Millions of tourists come to America every year, lay on the beaches of Hawaii, ride the rides at Universal, look at the Empire State Building and leave without incident. Many foreign nationals work everyday without a problem. . Immigration itself is not the problem. The United States turns 100,000's of them into citizens every year, far more than any other country on Earth. They become US citizens the right way. . People will start acting on their own when they no longer feel protected. Jan Brewer of Arizona made 5 requests for border help from Barack Obama (she never even got a return phone call) before she decided to sign the dreaded SB1070. Only after she humiliated Obama by signing 1070 did she get some half hearted help. . It's nice people like you worrying about profiling. Maybe you need to understand why these people feel a need to profile. Then you need to understand your need to profile them.
I respect the desire of illegals wanting their children to have a better life. The problem that the Illegals create for their children, which in some circles are called Anchor Kids, is that an emotional and spiritual anchor is created in their children's spirit. Most illegals are from Mexico, so they have a Catholic worldview. Sin is a very big issue in that worldview. Illegals know that they are sinning when they come across the border. They use their poverty to justify it, but they know that they are in sin. Their American children, grow up, not being able to emotionally accept their parent's sin. It conflicts with their loyalty to their parents so they grow up with this resentment. "How DARE YOU call my mami and papi's actions sinful. I hate you!" That kind of resentment can be life long and will follow the Anchor kid into Judgment Day. The sins of the fathers are then visited onto the children and in attempting to give their children a better life, many Illegals are setting their children up for a more difficult time on Judgment Day than they need to have. My .02.