Illegal immigrants will be hot state topic

Article by Sinji Jacobs, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 11, 2005

Illegal immigration may become one of the most fiercely debated issues when the state Legislature reconvenes in January.

A panel of Georgia House and Senate lawmakers on Wednesday met with more than a dozen law enforcement officials from across the state to get ideas for legislation that would crack down on crime committed by undocumented immigrants.

The law enforcement officials said that they often face difficulties in identifying and tracking aliens who commit crimes. Many said they are seeing increased activity in metro Atlanta by Asian and Hispanic gangs, often composed largely of illegal immigrants. They asked lawmakers to help them stamp out fake identification cards....

In Georgia, some lawmakers say the state Legislature should consider stricter policies, such as banning illegal immigrants from social services and penalizing companies that hire undocumented laborers.

State Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) and state Rep. John Lunsford (R-McDonough) hosted the immigration meeting at the state Capitol. Rogers said he and other lawmakers likely will pursue legislation to crack down on fake identification cards and the companies that sell them.

This year, Rogers introduced bills that would prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving state-funded social services such as food stamps, ban them from obtaining driver's licenses, prevent them from taking classes at Georgia's public colleges and universities, and ensure they do not work on state-funded projects.

No action was taken on the measures, but some are likely to be debated next year.

Rogers said he will focus next year on Senate Bill 170, a measure that would ban illegal immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses. Georgia does not grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and new federal legislation passed this year the REAL ID act further restricts illegal immigrants from getting driver's licenses.

He also said he will push a version of Senate Bill 336, a bill that makes it a crime for a business owner to employ unauthorized illegal laborers....

Read the complete article.