[UPDATE] Georgia Immigration Bill Clears Senate

By: Gabrielle Sarann Email
By: Gabrielle Sarann Email

[UPDATE] 3-18 4:06 PM by Associated Press--

ATLANTA (AP) -- Big immigration bills have cleared each chamber of the Georgia Legislature. But a number of smaller measures have failed to advance and may be stalled for this session.

Of nearly a dozen immigration-related bills, only three cleared either the House or Senate by crossover day, the deadline by which legislation is supposed to pass at least one chamber.

The Senate and House passed separate bills that require many employers to use a federal database to check the immigration status of new hires. They would also authorize law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of criminal suspects who can't produce an accepted form of identification.

A bill that makes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol a felony on the first conviction only for illegal immigrants cleared the Senate.
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So far, State lawmakers are following suit with Arizona's immigration crackdown.

Today, the senate passed almost overwhelmingly a bill targeting illegal immigrants and the people who hire them.

In a vote of 34 to 21, Senator Jack Murphy's Senate Bill 40 was approved by the Senate.

The proposal is two fold: it gives law enforcement the power to check the immigration status of criminal suspects.

And it requires employers to use the federal work authorization program to verify the status of new employees.

Several downtown business owners in Valdosta say they'd welcome a statewide overhaul of Georgia's immigration laws.

"I believe it's a good thing to know where our workers come from," said William Colyer, the owner of Colyer's Jewelers on Ashley Street.

Business owner Rudine Miller, who owns nearby Rudine's Bridal agrees, "I wouldn't want anybody illegal working in my store that's not supposed to be here," said said. "Because of all the riffraff you have to go through, I don't want to hire anybody illegal and then everything comes back on me."

Now, The bill moves to the House for consideration.

Then if it's passed by House lawmakers, Governor Nathan Deal has the power to sign it into law.

House Bill 40 would make it a mandate for public employers to comply with a federal program, or E-verify database, to check employment eligibility.

However, the employer would face penalties for not complying with the program. Those penalties are not yet defined.

And the proposal is similar to strict legislation enacted in Arizona last year.

The Grand Canyon State's law gives police officers the authority to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect is here illegally.


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