Emboldened by November’s electoral gains in the General Assembly, Georgia Republicans are fixing to make illegal immigration a major issue during the upcoming legislative session.
They’ll have an ally in incoming GOP governor Nathan Deal, who made tough anti-illegal immigration measures a centerpiece of his time in Congress.
A committee of 14 Republican lawmakers was formed in September to study illegal immigration and to identify its impact on Georgia. The committee aims to fill any gaps in Georgia’s laws and to add enforcement tools to laws already on the books, co-chair Rep. Matt Ramsey said.
There’s been a lot of talk about the possibility of an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration by giving local law enforcement expanded powers, but Ramsey said the committee won’t just cut and paste the text of the controversial law that Arizona passed earlier this year.
University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock says it’s one issue Georgians seem to care about.
“It’s probably more symbolic than anything else, but it’s certainly a topic that resonates with a lot of people,” he said. “Is it going to have an effect that will be felt by non immigrants? Probably not. Is it going to suddenly free up a lot of jobs? I doubt it.”