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Anti-immigration bill disastrous to Georgia’s South Asian community

By: Charles Kuck Email By: Charles Kuck
May 2011
Anti-immigration bill disastrous to Georgia’s South Asian community

While many South Asians in Georgia have been preoccupied with World Cup cricket and the CRCT tests, Georgia lawmakers have passed HB 87, an alarmingly damaging anti-immigration bill mimicking the infamous Arizona bill, the SB 1070. Governor Nathan Deal is expected to sign HB 87, and if he does, Georgia will join Arizona to become the laughing stock of the nation.

However, its implications to the state, and particularly to small business owners—a mainstay of the South Asian community—are no laughing matter. While the details of the bill can be found on my blog at www.musingsonimmigration.blogspot.com, in this forum I wish to tackle the implications of it. The bill does little of what the Georgia General Assembly purports it would do. Questionable and ambiguous clauses within the bill as well as challenges to its constitutionality reveal the mean-spirited purpose of the law—to scare immigrants into leaving Georgia. This is the tired “enforcement by attrition” model favored by anti-immigration groups for more than 20 years.

That said, there are provisions in HB 87 that people must be aware of so that they do not run afoul of the law. Among other things, HB 87 requires certain private employers to utilize the cumbersome and onerous E-Verify system, which is likely to put many small business owners at the risk of noncompliance, resulting in heavy fines and even imprisonment. Every business in Georgia will be required to complete an affidavit before the county or municipal government, in regards to compliance with this law in order to obtain or renew their business license or occupational tax certificate.

Also included in HB 87 is a “show me your papers” law, which gives local law enforcement officers authority to enforce federal immigration laws. A similar provision was found unconstitutional in Arizona.

HB 87 is expansive, far-reaching, and violates the Constitution in a variety of ways. And yet it does nothing to stop illegal immigration.

It is a law that will destroy families, ruin businesses, and obliterate Georgia's economy. Don't believe me? Ask Arizona. What is disappointing is that more businesses and chambers did not verbally, actively and passionately oppose this law for what it really is—a blatant attempt to revive prejudice against immigrants.

And it is not just Latinos that the law targets. It is designed to make all immigrants suffer. It is now time for South Asians to stand and be counted with other immigrants. You need to come out to rallies to show that you are an important part of our community. For now, call Governor Deal at 404-656-1776 and tell him to veto this HB 87.

We should all be worried that Georgia has traveled back in time 50 years. I fear for what will happen to my state because of HB 87. I am embarrassed for our state legislature and the governor who signs this. No excuse or rationale is sufficient for letting HB 87 become the law of Georgia. 

[Charles Kuck is an adjunct professor of law at the University of Georgia, a past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and a managing partner of Kuck Immigration Partners LLC.]

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