Rally pushes end of aid to illegals

By Nancy Badertscher, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 18, 2005

Opponents of illegal immigration rallied at the state Capitol on Monday, stepping up their push for legislation to deny state benefits to illegal immigrants and urging Gov. Sonny Perdue to get involved.

"If legal Georgia residents are not first in line for taxpayer services, then who is?" state Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) asked a crowd of a couple of hundred outside the Capitol.

Republican leaders in the Senate recently promised to make illegal immigration a top priority when lawmakers convene in January, and the subject is shaping up to be one of the hot issues of the 2006 General Assembly. Rogers is sponsoring legislation that would make anyone who receives state taxpayer-funded benefits prove that he or she is a Georgia resident and a U.S. citizen or is in the United States legally.

Supporters say states have a right to keep their limited resources for their residents. Opponents say the issue needs to be resolved at the federal level and accuse the GOP of trying to exploit voter worries about jobs and tax dollars during an election year....

Monday's rally was organized by Cobb County Republican Chairman Anthony-Scott Hobbs and broadcast live on WGKA radio at 920 AM.

Hobbs, who hosts a talk show on the station, said he is "tired of the left trying to frame this . . . as anti-immigration. It's not anti-immigration. It's anti-illegal immigration."...

Rogers' bill would not apply to some services. School systems must accept all children, regardless of legal status, and federal law requires hospitals, in life-threatening emergencies, to provide treatment to illegal immigrants.

Under the measure, illegal immigrants would be barred from enrolling in the state's 34 public universities and colleges. Currently, state officials do not keep track of how many illegal students are in the University System of Georgia. Colleges ask potential students whether they are Georgia residents for the purpose of assigning in-state or out-of-state tuition fees.

Rogers told the crowd that illegal immigrants may be costing the state up to $1 billion for everything from emergency room care and public schooling to incarceration and traffic congestion....



Senate Bill 170, which was filed during the last legislative session but not acted on, is expected to be debated when the General Assembly convenes in January. The bill:

Requires that anyone seeking taxpayer services, which require Georgia residency, must prove Georgia residency. Many agencies already require this.

Establishes that someone who is not legally residing in the United States cannot be considered a legal resident of Georgia.

Requires that Georgia agencies notify the U.S. Department of Homeland Security if a person who is subject to verification requirements fails to prove he or she is lawfully in the United States.


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