The last order of business for the Georgia General Assembly in its 40-day legislative session is also one of the most controversial: an Arizona-like proposal to penalize illegal immigrants.
Like the Arizona measure approved amid much debate last year, Georgia House Bill 87 would allow local police to check the immigration status of anyone whose legality it suspects. Supporters say it is necessary to take on an illegal immigration problem that the federal government has failed to address. Critics believe the state should not -
and legally cannot -
enforce immigration policy, and that the proposal would have negative consequences on Georgia's huge agricultural industry, which relies on migrant farm labor.
Both sides of the debate believe some form of the measure will pass. But there are still several disagreements to be worked out, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
. One involves a provision that would require Georgia businesses to check the immigration status of their employees using a federal system known as E-Verify. Underscoring the complexity of the negotiations, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal -
a Republican who campaigned last year on the need to address illegal immigration -
has not taken a position on the bill, The Journal-Constitution
In general, Arizona-like immigration crackdown bills have fared poorly this year in legislatures amid political and fiscal concerns, such as the possibility that the measures will prompt economic boycotts, as the Arizona law did. Meanwhile, the Arizona law faces an uncertain future amid court challenges, and many states are watching to see how that legislation fares legally before moving forward on their own proposals.
Besides Georgia, other states that could pass immigration crackdowns this year include Alabama and Florida.