Georgia Joins Arizona in Strong Effort to Control Illegal Immigration

Matt Mayer /

It appears that Georgia Governor Nathan Deal will sign legislation passed by the Georgia House and Senate that adopts the Arizona SB 1070 framework for controlling illegal immigration. With the influx of 425,000 illegal immigrants into Georgia over the last two decades, this two-pronged legislation will help curb that flow.

The two elements of the Georgia legislation involve permitting law enforcement to check the legal status of individuals they stop and requiring the use of the E-Verify system for businesses with more than 10 employees. Unlike Arizona’s SB 1070 “reasonable suspicion” standard, the Georgia legislation permits law enforcement to check the legal status only of individuals who are detailed for criminal offenses. This minor change means that the legal outcome to SB 1070 in the Ninth Circuit won’t have any chilling effect on the Georgia legislation.

The Heritage Foundation has encouraged states and localities to take stronger stances on controlling illegal immigration within their jurisdictions given the constitutional powers reserved to states under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. We expect the Supreme Court to find the Legal Arizona Workers Act constitutional, thereby giving states the green light to move forward with additional measures aimed at controlling illegal immigration. We hope that the decision contains strong language on the broad constitutional powers possessed by states to act in this area so legal challenges by pro-illegal immigration groups become more infrequent.

With the ineffective approach to this problem coming from Washington, D.C., if America is ever going to solve the problem of illegal immigration, the solutions must come from states and localities who pay the costs of it. Georgia’s recent stance is just another brick in the wall.