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Immigration: Law safeguards resources, forces rule of law to be followed
0626Rich Golick
Rep. Rich Golick

The Times and asked both side of the immigration debate to answer the question: Is Georgia's immigration law good for the state?"

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You will be shocked to learn that there was no one named Golick on the Mayflower. But there was a Golick or two included in one or more of the immigration waves of the late 19th and early 20th century when so many people with different sounding names (Golick is Ukrainian) showed up on American shores in search of a better life for their families. And they did so in accordance with the laws of this country, because to do otherwise for people of that generation was unimaginable.

They did not arrive here under the assumption that anyone owed them anything - quite the opposite. They were grateful to be here, and they made the most of the opportunity. They kept to themselves largely, played by the rules, worked very hard and established credibility in their communities - just as legal immigrants are doing today.

Seeing people who have recently gone through the difficult process of becoming American citizens makes me proud to be an American, and we should embrace these new Americans because while they may be from an unfamiliar part of the world, they share the legacy of our own ancestors. They are us, and they stand in stark contrast to those who have violated our laws to enter the United States.

Why do we reject those who have broken our laws to be here? After all, aren't these people trying to make a better life for themselves just like the Ellis Island entrants of a century or more ago? No one begrudges anyone who wants to make a better life for themselves and their families, but we do reject those who would break our laws in coming here, who maintain the view that their presence here is some sort of entitlement, and then have the audacity to suggest that we are wrong to enforce our laws.

We are a nation of laws, period. This isn't a suggestion or a theory to be debated with those who hang the American flag upside down and shout into megaphones to get their eight seconds on the evening "news" as they seek to demonize those of us who truly believe in the rule of law. Our laws are the very basis of the strength and stability of our society, and we choose not to risk undermining that strength and stability.

As elected representatives of the people, we take an oath to support the constitutions of the United States and the state of Georgia, and, we swear that we will act in a manner that will be most conducive to the interests and prosperity of the state of Georgia. And that brings us directly to the issue of safeguarding public resources.

The economic recession has forced government at all levels to do more with less, and that means a renewed and sharpened focus on ensuring that taxpayer money (it's not government's money) is used to benefit those who are in this country legally.The Atlanta newspaper reported that Georgia has one of the highest illegal alien populations in the country - surpassing even Arizona. That translates into millions of taxpayer dollars being spent on these individuals in areas such as our corrections and health care systems just to name two. How can we justify spending one taxpayer dollar on people who are here illegally when local governments and school systems are reducing services and firing teachers? We can't.

The state of Georgia has a very rational interest in ensuring that these public benefits are expended on individuals who are here legally, and my sense is that this was the primary motivator as to why the vast majority of the General Assembly - Democrat and Republican - supported enactment of HB 87.

But laws are useless if they are not enforced. The critically important E-Verify requirements for employers have been endorsed across the political spectrum: from President Obama on the left to the most conservative members of the U.S. House on the right, and the U.S. Supreme Court recently affirmed the use of the E-Verify system. The enforcement provisions of HB 87 are tough, and they are designed (within limitations set out in federal law) to enable state and local law enforcement to assist in the enforcement of our immigration laws where allowed.

Contrary to some of the radical left hysterics reported throughout the debate, there are no so-called "show me your papers" provisions in the law, there are specific prohibitions against racial profiling and any presumption that law enforcement will go out of its way to target certain individuals or groups is purely speculative, sensational and insults every member of law enforcement in our state.

When we cast aside the distractions, demonization and diatribes, we are left with the simple truth: the people's elected representatives have acted within their discretion with the intent of safeguarding public resources and with the intent of enforcing the law against those who would drain those public resources even as they are here illegally - and that's the operative term.

Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna, is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Non-Civil.

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