Thu., April 14, 2011 6:58pm (EDT)

Immigration Crackdown Heads to Gov. Deal
By Melissa Stiers
Updated: 3 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
The Georgia State Capitol (photo courtesy of Carl Black via Flickr).
The Georgia State Capitol (photo courtesy of Carl Black via Flickr).
The controversial illegal immigration reform bill passed on the last day of the General Assembly. Immigrant rights groups and members of the business community opposed it up to the final debate.

Dozens of protestors rallied on the capitol steps Thursday night as the measure bounced between chambers.

"When I say immigrant you say power… immigrant...power… immigrant... power!"

The bill lets police officers check the citizenship status of people pulled over for traffic violations. It also punishes people harboring or transporting illegal aliens but only while committing other crimes.

Xochitl Bervera, with immigrant rights group Somos Georgia says the bill encourages racial profiling and is immoral.

"These kinds of bills are really targeting our entire communities and are really designed to chase us out of the state and for many of us we’ve lived here for years, for decades, we go to school here and we’re not going anywhere."

The measure also makes it a felony to use a fake ID to get a job. Its proponents say preventing illegal immigrants from working is the crux of the bill. It also makes companies use a federal database to verify the legality of new hires. many businesses oppose that rule.

But David Raynor with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce says in the final version, small businesses escape scrutiny. The measure doesn’t apply to companies with less than 11 full time employees. And Raynor says many seasonal and temporary workers are exempt.

"I think for the agriculture industry and members of the hospitality industry that maybe don’t have full-time employees on Jan. 1st of every year that could be a situation that would behoove them not having to comply with the mandate."

Still, the bill’s sponsor Republican Matt Ramsey from Peachtree City says he’s satisfied with the final outcome.

"We think we have done the job we were sent here to do to address to extent that we can as state policy makers the issues that have been visited upon our state by the federal government’s decades-long failure to secure our borders."

Governor Deal hasn’t indicated whether he’ll sign the measure.