Governor Deal Poised to Sign Divisive Immigration Bill in Georgia


(APN) ATLANTA — Governor Nathan Deal is poised to sign the controversial racial profiling immigration bill, HB 87, into law.  He has until May 24, 2011, to sign or veto the bill before it automatically becomes law, that is, forty days since it was passed by the legislature.

Deal is in a bit of a bind because Georgia Republicans are pushing for him to sign the bill, even as he plans a trip to Europe where he will be trying to convince companies to do business in Georgia.

The bill was supported by anti-immigration groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which is listed as a hate group; the extreme right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC); the Ku Klux Klan; and the Correction Corporation of American (CCA), which stands to make record profits from this law.

The bill was widely supported by Republican legislators, who wanted to satisfy their right-wing base.

Those opposed to the bill include the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, the Anti-Defamation League, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, Asian American Legal Advocacy Center, Catholic Conference of Georgia, Georgia Agribusiness Council, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Farm Bureau, Georgia Hotel & Hospitality Association, Georgia Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, Georgia Restaurant Association, and the Government Contractors Association.

The City Council of Atlanta passed a resolution on Monday, May 02, 2011, opposing HB 87.  The vote was 14 to 1, with Councilman Howard Shook (District 7) voting nay.  Councilman CT Martin (District 10) sponsored the resolution; Felicia Moore (District 9) and Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large) spoke in support.

One year later since the State of Arizona was the first in the US to pass its extremist law, SB 1070, a national boycott against Arizona has resulted in an estimated 150 million dollars in lost tourism revenue, protests, world-wide negative publicity, and pushback from big business.

The Arizona bill has been defeated legally in federal court on four key provisions, where years of appeals which will cost millions more.  The provisions were struck down because they were seen as interfering with federal immigration policy.

Meanwhile, US District Judge Clark Waddoups blocked a similar law which recently passed in Utah because it would have caused “irreparable harm” to the people of Utah.  The law is blocked from taking effect while Judge Clark considers its legality.

Governor Deal is facing pressure from national groups which support anti-immigrant laws, in order to sign the bill in order to create a legal case that would end up in federal court for the 11th circuit.  Even though circuits in the western US have struck down two bills, some hope that a more conservative court in the eastern US could rule in favor of Georgia’s bill, ultimately forcing the Supreme Court of the US to rule, according to Larry Pellegrini of the Georgia Rural Urban Summit.

Many foresee a similar devastating future in Georgia.

The boycott in Georgia has already begun, with groups like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the US Human Rights Network already changing the location of their upcoming conferences which were to take place in Georgia.

Farmers fear Georgia’s world famous Vidalia onions may rot in the fields as the Hispanic work force flees Georgia’s repressive laws, leaving behind bankrupted Georgia farmers.

These concerns had no influence on the lawmakers who mostly relied on negative stereotypes of Hispanics as welfare recipients, despite the fact that only US citizens are eligible for these services.

The bill does create a study that will look at the impact of HB 87 on Georgia’s agricultural industry and ways to create a guest worker program.  However, “after the bill is passed is not the right time to do a study,” Pellegrini said.

This legislation will put undocumented immigrants in for-profit jails like CCA where they will work for two to three dollars a day to clean and cook for the center.

The federal government pays $60.50 per detainee per day to house men at CCA’s Stewart Detention Center, the largest immigration detention center in the US, located in Lumpkin, Georgia.

When recently asked about the Georgia bill, US President Barack Obama said, “It is a mistake for states to try to do this piecemeal.  We can’t have fifty different immigration laws around the country.  Arizona tried this and a federal court already struck them down,” according to Reuters.

“This is a sad day for Georgia, but it is not the end of the fight.  Many of the provisions in this bill are unconstitutional, and after we file suit in federal court and win, the legislators who voted for it will have to explain to their constituents why they voted for a law they knew was illegal,” Charles Kuck with Kuck Immigration Partners promised.

Several Georgia counties have already stated that they do not have the money or resources to enforce HR 87.

Undocumented immigrants who were living in the shadows may now go deeper underground.  Some people in a family may be citizens, while others may not be citizens.  But the whole family will leave taking with them the millions they would have contributed to Georgia’s coffers in sales, income, and property taxes.

One corporation that will make money from the anti-immigration bills is CCA, whose profitability depends on increasing numbers of immigrants sent to prison.

Nashville-based CCA’s earnings were up fifteen percent in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago.  CCA reported earnings of 40.3 million dollars, or 37 cents per share, on revenue of 428 million dollars in first quarter of 2011, according to the Nashville Business Journal.  CCA’s revenue for 2009 was 1.7 billion dollars.

CCA’s top management in Tennessee contributed the largest block of out-of-state campaign contributions received by Arizona’s Republican Governor, Jan Brewer.  Brewer employs two former CCA lobbyists as aides who assisted signing SB 1070 into law.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, CCA spent 770,000 dollars lobbying at the federal level in 2009 and has spent as much as 3.4 million in 2005.

Georgia State Sen. Donald Balfour in 2006, 2007, and 2008 received 2,000 dollars each year in donations from CCA; in 2009 he received 1,000; and in 2010, 750, for a total of 7,750 dollars since 2006 for his Primary Elections.

Governor Nathan Deal received from CCA 5,000 dollars in 2010 for the General Election.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle received from CCA 5,000 dollars in 2006 for his General Election; 1,000 in 2010 for the Primary Election; and another 1,000 in 2010 for the General Election, totalling 7,000 dollars.

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers received from CCA in 2008, 1,500 dollar for the Primary; in 2010, 1,000 dollars for the Primary and 1,000 for the General Election, totalling 3,500 dollars.

(END / 2011)

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