Similar legislation died on a bipartisan vote in the state Senate during this year’s legislation session. Critics said Senate Bill 404 would have punished children for the choices their parents made and blocked them from working and contributing to the state’s economy. Supporters spoke about upholding the nation’s legal immigration system. On Monday, McKoon cited road safety, “voter integrity” and security issues.
“There have been press reports in North Carolina that folks on deferred action have registered to vote – have attempted to vote,” he said. “We simply can’t have that in our state. We have to have elections that people can respect the integrity of.”
“You generally are not going to be granted admittance to a federal building without a driver’s license of some kind and that is a security measure,” he added. “And if you start talking about issuing these licenses to large populations that we know very little about — in terms of where is the person’s country of origin, what is their reason for being in the country — I think quite frankly we create some security challenges as well.”
Charles Kuck, a local immigration attorney who teaches immigration law at Emory University, said McKoon’s bill is unconstitutional because it would run afoul of the Equal Protection clause.
“At the end of the day, if Georgia wants to be known as an anti-immigration state, Josh McKoon should keep talking,” Kuck said.
McKoon also confirmed his bill would not provide exemptions for other groups of people who have received deferred action, including battered spouses, parents with seriously ill children and crime victims who are serving as witnesses in police investigations.
“Reportedly, certain victims of domestic violence and other serious crimes with deferred action status would be harmed by this bill,” said Azadeh N. Shahshahani, the director of the National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project for the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Georgia. “Immigrant women in Georgia need a driver’s license in order to navigate their lives with dignity and without dependence on others, including their abusers in the case of domestic violence survivors.”
McKoon’s bill also requires noncitizens — including refugees, asylees and others — applying for Georgia driver’s licenses to be fingerprinted or provide “other biological characteristics,” it substantially ups the fines for driving on a suspended or revoked license and empowers police to have cars impounded under those circumstances.