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What is ugly about Georgia’s HB 87?

Home to Martin Luther King and a symbolic state of the civil rights movement, Georgia is, perhaps, repeating history.

On May 13, Gov. Nathan Deal signed bill HB 87 or the Georgia Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 to fight the presence of unauthorized immigrants on his state.

Under this new law, effective on July 1st, it will be considered a crime if someone:

  • • Gets a job with false documents.
  • • Transports undocumented people within Georgia (even if they are ambulance drivers or public transportation employees).
  • • Harbors undocumented people with no exemptions for universities, non-emergency medical care units, priests , rabbis nor ministers.
  • • Incites someone else to come illegally to Georgia.

If any of these violations involve more than seven undocumented immigrants, or if it was done for money, then it’s a felony punishable by 5 years imprisonment and fines of up to $20,000. Otherwise it is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The new law also mandates the use of E-Verify by all state and local government agencies to check the legal immigration status of their employees, as well as subcontractors and companies with 10 or more employees. Depending on their workforce, the law goes into effect on January 1st, 2012 for the larger companies and until July 1, 2013 for the smallest companies.

Likewise Arizona, Georgia’s HB 87 also allows local and state police officers to ask for papers to investigate if that person is undocumented and if so, to notify the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

As valid documents of identification, HB 87 considers: a valid Georgia driver’s license or ID card, a valid driver license from a state that requires proof of legal presence, a vaid ID card by the federal government or a foreign ID accompanied by proof of citizenship or legal residency.

Because of its potential of “racial profiling” and “unconstitutional”, ten unions and civil rights group filing a class action lawsuit against the state of Georgia.  The lawsuit will be costly for both plaintiffs and defendants. Arizona has spent up to $1.9 million until May 2011 in legal fees to defend law SB 1070 which inspired laws like HB 87 in Georgia, according to the Immigration Policy Center (IPC).

The Impact of Immigration

Georgia, home to 910,473 immigrants and 14,000 foreign students who could be affected by the dispositions of HB 87.

Know Your Rights with help from the ACLU

Know Your Rights

Immigrants (legal and undocumented) comprised 12.6% of the state’s workforce in 2008 (or 626,836 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Georgia, the state would lose $21.3 billion in economic activity, $9.5 billion in gross state product, and approximately 132,460 jobs, according to a report by the Perryman Group

Meanwhile activists fight against this new law, the Amercian Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recommends to any foreigner in the Peach State: if a police detains you, say you wish to remain silent and DO NOT discuss your immigration situation with anyone but your lawyer. Don’t even answer an innocent question like “Where are you from?”