In the final day of the legislative session, Georgia lawmakers passed a bill that if signed by Republican Governor Nathan Deal may become one of the toughest anti-immigration measures imposed by a state.
Similar to last year’s Arizona law, the HB87 would allow enforcement officials to verify immigration status of certain investigation suspects. CNN.com also reports that people caught working with fake documents could receive fines of up to $250,000 and be sentence to 15 years in prison.
"The bill reflects well the priorities and principles on which the governor campaigned ... last year," Deal’s spokesperson Brian Robinson told CNN. "We believe that it reinforces the law in Georgia."
Authored by Republican state representative Matt Ramsey, the bill also requires private businesses that employ more than 10 people to verify their status through a federal database. E-Verify, is an extended measure to an earlier law that requires public employers and government contractors to determine if their employees are legally in the country, according to CNN.com.
"We have done the job that we were sent to do," Ramsey said to CNN, after the bill passed in the state Senate with 37 of the 56 votes. The measure received 112 to 59 in the House.
Racial profiling and discrimination were among the arguments presented by opponents of the law, who also believed these tactics would hurt Georgia’s economy. CNN.com reports that legal organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union are already planning to present lawsuits that would halt the implementation of HB87.
"People come here, legally or illegally, to fulfill the dreams that they have for themselves and their families," democrat state senator Vincent Fort said to CNN.
Jerry Gonzalez, the executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, joins Senator Fort in this belief. According to Reuters, Gonzalez urged Gov. Deal to veto the bill because it would hurt foreign investments and tourism for his southern state. "This bill will kill jobs and ruin Georgia's economy," said Gonzalez, who believes it would also cause a shortage of labor in the agricultural industry.
It is not clear when the bill will be ready to sign or whether the governor has decided to veto it. “We can’t veto something that is not on our desk,” Robinson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
For more information on how states are responding to immigration, visit our interactive map.