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There is nothing ‘controversial' about new immigration law

POSTED: May 18, 2011 1:00 a.m.

Immigration reform is necessary and vital for a safe, secure and prosperous Georgia.

Frankly, when it comes to Georgia's new immigration bill recently signed into law, I'm getting very tired of comments that set aside the truth. If you are going to discuss this issue at least know the facts.

For instance:

There is no country more welcoming to immigrants than the U.S. We naturalize 1 million new citizens per year and welcome in another 1.5 million legal visitors on visas.

The social and economic consequences of illegal immigration in Georgia cost taxpayers in excess of $2.3 billion per year in direct costs to state and local taxpayers. Is it so hard to see how this burdens every segment of our state government and impacts critical services such as law enforcement, health care, K-12 education and transportation?

America's immigration laws have been ignored and violated for decades leading to an almost unmanageable situation. Yet, in spite of these facts we are told this law is controversial.

May I ask, what is controversial about a free and easy to use federal E-verify system for businesses in Georgia with more than 10 employees? About requiring the use of secure and verifiable identification documents for any official use, including the dispensation of public benefits?

About providing new tools for law enforcement that allow for greater latitude in handling immigration issues and for prosecuting those that knowingly harbor or transport illegal aliens? About peace officers being authorized to investigate the immigration status of a suspect during a lawful stop for other suspected criminal activity if the suspect fails to produce one or more of certain verifiable documents? Controversial? Please.

A Georgia newspaper reported an attorney as saying the new law criminalizes citizens who attempt to help an undocumented alien get help from a hospital, abused woman's shelter or even the court.

However, in my review of the law and discussion of it with state officials, the law actually refers to penalizing people who knowingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants and makes it a felony to present false documents or information when applying for a job.

Only two reasons why this knowingly was omitted. Either the attorney did not know the law, possible, I suppose. Or the attorney makes a very good living off taxpayers who have to pay for the legal defense of illegal immigrants.

Here's a tip. When you hear an opponent of immigration reform speak, follow the money.

Immigration reform. Controversial? I say no.

I say immigration reform is necessary and vital for a safe, secure and prosperous Georgia.

Tom Smiley


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