We looked at how detrimental it is to our state to educate, medicate, and incarcerate those who enter our state and our nation illegally. With this information in hand, I knew that this session needed to be a turning point for Georgia in how we dealt with illegal immigration.
It was past time for changes to be made in order to protect our state's valuable resources and our hard working, legal citizens.
Many proposals were made in immigration reform. Several Senate Bills and House Bills were proposed that dealt with curbing the many problems created by illegal immigration.
In the final hours of the legislative session, the Senate and House reached agreement on a bill aimed at curbing illegal immigration in Georgia. The text of HB87 may be read here
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011 would require businesses with 10 or more employees to use E-Verify, the federal online program used to verify an employee's citizenship. Small businesses will have an additional six months to come under the E-Verify requirement, and companies who commit "good faith" violations have 30 days to correct the error before facing penalties.
In response to concerns about how the bill's provisions would impact Georgia agriculture, the bill calls for a study about how the legislation would affect the industry and the federal guest worker program. We cannot strengthen our state by hurting one of the most vital industries to Georgia.
We owe it to our farmers and to our agriculture community to delve further into how the issue of illegal immigration affects them, and to work diligently on developing a plan that not only protects our citizens, but also protects their livelihood.
The legislation also makes it a crime to knowingly transport illegal immigrants while committing another criminal offense, and allows law enforcement officers to verify a person's immigration status while investigating a criminal suspect. This is an important step toward making Georgia a safer place for our citizens. The bill now goes before the Governor for his approval.
Much still remains to be done about the immigration crisis in our state. While it is beneficial to have these laws that discourage illegal immigration, it is also time that we take a long hard look at ourselves.
What has become of the work ethic long ingrained in the fabric of the American culture? Our forefathers built our communities on hard manual labor. They were people of the land. They dirtied their hands and broke their backs to create a country worth living in and fighting for. When opportunities dwindled- they created more. They built industries and cities grew from the man power put forth by those unafraid to work.
Have we become a nation of entitled people? Things were built by hand, crops were harvested by hand. Are jobs in communities filled by illegal immigrants because they are stealing these jobs from Georgians eager to work? Or is it because Americans have become too proud for this type of work? With unemployment levels still inflated, have our citizens become to self-important to accept labor intensive jobs? It is THESE jobs that built our state and our nation. Perhaps our return to prosperity comes with a return to a stronger work ethic.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can continue to confront this issue. As always, I am honored to serve the 31st district of Georgia. Although session has ended, I encourage you to reach out to me with your opinions, views and ideas on each issue that affects you. I will continue to be a strong advocate for your voice at the State Capitol. Together we will continue to build a safe, innovative, prosperous state for future generations