Pro & Con: Should Georgia adopt an Arizona-style immigration law?

Pro & Con: Should Georgia adopt an Arizona-style immigration law?

By Inger Eberhart

YES: Enforcement works, will save state money, badly needed jobs.

The basis of the Arizona immigration law is the principle of attrition through enforcement. The intent section of the law says that “this act is to make attrition through enforcement the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona.”

Attrition through enforcement means that when the immigration laws are enforced illegal aliens self-deport.

The passage of Arizona’s law and the threat of subsequent enforcement led to numerous stories of illegal aliens leaving Arizona. Enforcement works; legalization is a losing proposition.

Comprehensive immigration reform is 21st-century speak for legalization and amnesty. When the 1986 amnesty was proposed, about 1.5 million illegal agricultural workers were said to be eligible.

Over 3 million illegal aliens were eventually granted amnesty as a result of fraud and misrepresentations. By 1997, there were 5 million illegal aliens.

Today, we have 12 million to 20 million in the United States. Amnesty merely encourages more illegal immigration and does not solve the problem.

Former congresswoman Barbara Jordan, the Clinton-appointed chairperson of the Commission on Immigration Reform, stated, “It is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interests.”

Amnesty did not serve our national interests in 1986 and it does not serve it today.

Arizona’s illegal alien population is 460,000.

According to a 2008 study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Georgia’s illegal alien population is 490,000.

Their presence costs Georgia over $1.6 billion per year for education, health care and incarceration of illegal aliens, according to FAIR.

Georgia taxpayers cannot and will not continue to underwrite illegal aliens.

Since 2006, we have had the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act, which has served as a blueprint for many other states.

The GSICA seeks to remove incentives for illegal immigration such as the illegal acquisition and granting of public benefits and illegal employment.

Enforcement of GSICA is crucial. While national unemployment trends toward 10 percent, Georgia’s unemployment is closer to 10.3 percent; not enforcing our immigration laws is unconscionable.

With SB 1070, which extends local enforcement of federal immigration laws, Arizona has drawn a line in the sand. It is time for Georgia to do the same.

Through the 287g program President Bill Clinton signed into law, federal and local law enforcement agencies partner in order to enforce immigration laws.

Under Georgia law and 287g, we have checked the nationality and immigration status of those jailed for DUI, felonies and aggravated misdemeanors since 2009.

If the person is in the United States illegally, jailers are required to report to the Department of Homeland Security.

The 287g program is a federal tool that has proven so effective that groups like the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and the American Civil Liberties Union want it eliminated.

Georgia should now extend local immigration enforcement by adopting Arizona’s law.

Many Democratic and Republican candidates for public office have already committed to bringing that legislation to Georgia.

Georgians, like the vast majority of Americans, are ready for elected officials to enforce immigration laws and defend our borders.

Inger Eberhart is on the board of advisors of The Dustin Inman Society in Marietta, which advocates strict border enforcement.

NO: Patchwork state laws will burden police, use race to harass citizens.

By Helen Kim Ho

The Asian American Legal Advocacy Center of Georgia wants an end to illegal immigration. AALAC believes the only effective way to solve the problem is through passage of comprehensive, federal immigration reform and not through piecemeal state legislation.

But as an organization that principally focuses on our local community, we’ve sought to understand this issue from the perspective of how it would impact regular, hard-working Asian-Americans and others.

State immigration laws like SB 1070 necessitate unconstitutional racial profiling, hurting legal as well as illegal immigrants.

And common sense tells us that when police are trying to develop a “reasonable suspicion” that someone they see walking down the street or driving down the road is illegal, the person’s skin color will be one of the first things they see. While the color of a person’s skin is evident, a person’s citizenship status is not. Imagine being arrested one day because you forgot to carry your naturalization papers proving your citizenship status, and the anger you would feel being treated as a second-class citizen.

My parents came to the United States because they believed America is a country of equal opportunity for those willing to work hard and play by the rules. That ideal is actually part of our Constitution: The 14th Amendment requires states to provide equal protection under the law for all people within its jurisdiction.

A law that authorizes detention of a certain group of people based on race or color goes against the language of our Constitution and the spirit of equal access that brought many of us here.

State immigration laws will create a confusing patchwork of enforcement policies, burdening and exposing local police officers to unfair lawsuits. AALAC believes that requiring our police to act as immigration officials — a responsibility that is and should be on the federal government — will create tremendous confusion and cost in implementation among different police agencies.

Already in Arizona, police are dealing with a mishmash of different training materials, policing guidelines and rules based on each agency’s interpretation of SB 1070.

In one county, a police officer is trained to let a driver go with a citation if the officer cannot confirm the driver’s legal status while a police officer in another county is trained to send that same driver to border patrol.

And while one officer may decide to detain an individual for speaking English poorly, another officer might decide limited English proficiency is not a reasonable factor in suspecting a person’s legal status.

And under SB 1070, the decisions of our police could later be the subject of a citizen’s lawsuit, challenging an individual officer for failing to follow procedure “to the fullest extent of the law.”

Patchwork enforcement policies will lead to unfair exposure for police, and could potentially jeopardize the trust and collaboration between the community and the police.

It’s not just a Latino issue. Before Asian-Americans or others feel this is just a Latino issue, let’s not forget that discriminatory immigration laws targeting Asians existed for more than 80 years in the United States, starting with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

And let’s also not forget that, in the current day and in our state, we hear of Asian-Americans being discriminated against and targeted based on their ethnicity or lack of English language proficiency.

We can’t afford to repeat history, and must come together to promote a reasoned, compassionate and comprehensive answer to our immigration crisis.

Helen Kim Ho is the executive director of the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center of Georgia.

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