Deal signs illegal immigration bill

ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday signed into law a controversial measure that aims to crack down on the state’s illegal alien population.

HB 87 requires that most businesses in the state verify the citizenship status of potential employees. The law, often described as similar to the one Arizona previously passed, would also allow law enforcement to check immigration status of some suspects.

“Georgia is a welcoming state with vibrant immigrant communities and a highly diverse population,” Deal said in a statement. “These are strengths that enrich the culture of Georgia and expand our economy. There’s no better way to promote the quality of life of all who live here and no better way to protect taxpayers than upholding the rule of law.

“This immigration reform measure fulfills my promise to Georgians to crack down on the influx of illegal immigrants into our state,” Deal added. “Those who claim that this law will have a negative financial impact on Georgia completely ignore the billions of dollars Georgians have spent on our schools, our hospitals, our courtrooms and our jails because of people who are in our state illegally.”

Georgia has the sixth highest population of illegal aliens of any state, “and this comes at enormous expense to Georgia taxpayers,” Deal said.

State Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, the driving force behind the measure, said the law “is a comprehensive and necessary effort to enforce the rule of law and protect the taxpayers of Georgia from being forced to subsidize the presence of nearly 500,000 illegal aliens in our state.

“This is not simply an immigration issue, but also a problem that burdens our state’s schools, healthcare system and law enforcement community,” Ramsey added. “Georgia’s taxpayers have demanded action to enforce the rule of law and, where the federal government has failed, their state government has listened and delivered.

However, opponents of the law are expected to push for a legal challenge.

“This legislation will wind up in court costing our state millions of dollars in legal fees, result in boycotts costing hundreds of millions of dollars, damage businesses that employ our legal citizens, and rip families apart,” Democratic Party of Georgia Chairman Mike Berlon said in a news release.

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