Despite judicial losses in both Arizona and Utah, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) of Georgia signed into law one of the nation’s toughest immigration measures, setting the stage for yet another legal challenge.
The law is similar to Arizona’s SB 1070 and allows local law enforcement to question suspects about their immigration status, including demanding proof of citizenship during a stop. Should that documentation not sufficiently satisfy law enforcement concerns, the law empowers them to take suspects to jail where federal officials could begin the deportation process.
The law also requires most private employers to check the immigration status of newly hired workers on the federal E-Verify database. According to the Pew Hispanic Center there are approximately 425,000 undocumented workers in Georgia, the seventh most of any state.
The law takes effect July 1.
Business groups, including the state Chamber of Commerce, have raised fears the law will diminish tourism and create additional financial burdens on companies. Early reports suggest the Arizona bill has cost the state as much as $250 million in convention business since its passage last year.
Comprehensive immigration reform is the solution to these issues, not an expansion of local police power or a diminishing of constitutional fidelity. And despite their insistence that they are acting because of a lack of federal will, it is the Republican party standing in the way of immigration reform becoming a reality.
photo courtesy of Barnaby via Flickr