Georgia Senate passes measure aimed at immigrants without legal status

Georgia would create special driver’s licenses and ID cards that more clearly identify immigrants without legal status under controversial legislation the Republican-controlled Senate approved on a 37-17 vote Monday.

The “driving safety cards” and “special identification cards” would be issued to immigrants who have received temporary deportation deferrals and would carry the label: “No lawful status.” The Georgia driver’s licenses and ID cards now issued to deferred action recipients say “limited-term.” As of May of last year, 3,468 of them have been issued.

The sponsor of Senate Bill 6 — Republican Sen. Joshua McKoon of Columbus — said the measure would help prevent voter fraud and terrorism.

“We have very little in the way of identity verification for people that are receiving these licenses and who have no lawful status,” McKoon told the Senate moments before the vote. “So you can easily see a situation where someone who wants to do harm — who wants to, for example, pursue a terrorist act of some kind — using a limited-term Georgia driver’s license to access a secure government facility and then carrying out an attack.”

Under questioning from Democratic state Sen. Lester Jackson of Savannah, McKoon couldn’t identify any instances where people with deferred action committed voter fraud or acts of terrorism in Georgia. Opponents also argued the measure would “stigmatize” people, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money and damage the state’s economy.

“Think about it. Why are we doing this?” Republican state Sen. Tommie Williams of Lyons told the Senate before voting against the bill. “We are doing this because there are those in the hall that do not like brown people. I wish that weren’t so.”

The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled House for consideration.

Read more: