A proposed Georgia law to crack down on illegal immigration that mirrors some provisions in Arizona’s controversial law is set for a hearing Friday. Members of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee will discuss what’s inside a measure offered by state Rep. Matt Ramsey last week.
His legislation wants to give law enforcement more tools and greater latitude in handling immigration issues. And it would require all employers run new hires through a federal database to ensure eligibility to work in the U.S.
Similar provisions in the Arizona law were blocked by a federal judge last year after a federal government lawsuit.
Governor Nathan Deal says Georgia needs an immigration reform bill it can use, rather than one for show.
"The reality is this. When the federal government fails to live up to its responsibilities to enforce immigration laws, the cost of it is borne by states and local jurisdictions," says Deal. "I think it is only reasonable that those who are have to bear cost of it, address it."
Both the House and Senate are working on separate pieces of immigration legislation that require new hires in Georgia be checked through the federal E-verify system to ensure they can work legally.
Cumming Republican Jack Murphy is sponsoring the senate bill, and says it's needed to strengthen an existing 2006 state law that already makes government agencies use the system.
“So this bill proposes more penalties for the public sector when they’re not using e-verify system," says Murphy.
Penalties include fines and a misdemeanor charge for agency heads. Both the house and senate bills extend the check to private companies who could additionally face the loss of their business license.
The bills also let local law enforcement check the status of people investigated for other crimes and hold them until they can prove they’re here legally.
Governor Deal says he hopes lawmakers can tailor Georgia’s law to avoid constitutional challenges like the “Arizona experiment.”