Et Tu, Georgia?

By: Daniel Nardini

The Georgia State Congress passed legislation that requires state and local police to check the immigration papers of all people they may have a “suspicion” of being in the United States illegally. The legislation also requires employers to check the legal status of those they employ. This piece of legislation now goes before the governor for signature. It is likely that it will be signed into law. This impending law will make Georgia second only to Arizona in the United States of requiring any and all residents to “show their papers.”

There is no question that this legislation will penalize Latinos and any and all non-western type looking peoples. The law was clearly passed in an atmosphere of paranoia and xenophobia. Even with the growth of Latino communities in Georgia, there are clearly nowhere near enough Latinos and undocumented to be a problem in Georgia. But to those who passed this legislation the numbers do not matter. Or rather the numbers matter in a different way—the legislation is aimed at Latinos because they are not a powerful voting bloc in Georgia. At least not yet.

There will be two major problems with enforcing this new law. First, there will be legal challenges to the law. The Georgia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union will challenge the law. This will cost the State of Georgia dearly. And second, many local and state police will most likely be reluctant to enforce the law. They have seen how this law wastes time, money and resources in Arizona, and besides many state and local police are concerned they might lose the confidence of the Latino communities they serve. This will only increase crime which is the one thing the police do not want to see given the dwindling budgets they have. We will see how this impending law goes and with it how it will affect the people of Georgia and beyond.

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