ATLANTA (AP) _ Come this summer, Georgia residents will need to carry a passport, an original birth certificate or other papers proving their US citizenship accompanied by a state photo ID to get most public benefits from the state like food stamps, Medicaid, assistance for paying heating or cooling costs.
The change is part of a sweeping immigration reform, passed last year by the state Legislature that will go into effect July first, aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from receiving state and local government funded benefits reserved for citizens and some legal immigrants.
Critics say it will add a tremendous burden for state agencies that will have to consult a long list of documents issued by thousands of different institutions. They also claim it will create a barrier for citizens who don't commonly carry the proper identification, like the poor, homeless and mentally ill.
Requiring every state agency to verify the lawful presence in the US of any adult applying for public benefits, except for emergency and disaster relief, is arguably the most far reaching of the many provisions in last year's Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act.
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