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The new immigration bill currently in our state legislature, House Bill 87, is a bad law and represents bad public policy that stems from frustration with our federal government's unwillingness to address the ongoing immigration crisis rather than from rational thought. Laws based on anger rather than rationality should be avoided at all costs.
The immigration crisis in our country cannot be solved by state legislation. We are sending a message to Washington, many say, but why would we spend billions of dollars to pass unconstitutional legislation in order to send a message instead of simply sending an actual message?
State legislation regarding immigration does nothing to address the underlying crisis; it simply puts a Band-Aid on the problem. A several billion-dollar Band-Aid.
Where will this money come from? Who knows? But I still have several questions for supporters of this sort of legislation. How many jobs will it create? How will it help solve our budget crisis? How will it help our state's economy?
Those pushing state level immigration legislation, such as HB 87, point out that immigrants cost Georgia vast amounts of money, $2.5 billion, according to Rep. Matt Ramsey, author of the bill. That may be true, but if undocumented immigrants were removed from Georgia, our state would lose $21.3 billion in economic activity, $9.5 billion in gross state product and approximately 132,460 jobs, according to the Perryman Group.
Immigrants also contribute between $215 million and $253 million to state coffers in sales, income and property taxes. Virtually all economic analyses conducted by actual economists reach similar conclusions.
This bill would allow police to investigate the immigration status of anyone they believe (based on what we don't know) is illegally in the country. But let's put aside for the moment the clear danger of racial profiling if this bill is passed. It creates unfunded mandates for every county and municipality in the state at a time when our legislature is faced with a $2 billion budget crisis.
The bill allows almost any citizen to bring a lawsuit against any business, local or state government agency or official by just accusing them of violating immigration law. (In light of the deluge of lawsuits we will see if this bill passes, maybe it should be renamed The Litigation Attorney Enrichment Act.)
There are lawsuits already planned against the state if the bill passes, which a great deal of taxpayer money will have to be spent to defend. Why wouldn't we simply wait to see how the litigation already going on in other states comes out before we dive headfirst into this?
HB 87 is bad law, bad public policy, economically and fiscally foolish, it would kill rather than create jobs, does nothing to address the problems it purports to address and we should all expect better from our elected officials.