Jeremy Redmon and Mario Guevara, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 8, 2011
The single mother is one of many illegal immigrants in metro Atlanta who say they are fleeing Georgia before the state’s tough new immigration enforcement law takes effect on July 1. Others say they are making similar plans in case opponents of the new law are unable to block it in the courts.
These developments show Georgia’s new law is having its desired impact, even weeks before it is scheduled to become law. But the law also is starting to produce a ripple effect.
Businesses that cater to the region’s Hispanic residents say the new law has sown fear among immigrants, scaring away their customers and employees. A grocery store chain that serves Hispanic immigrants says the new law has led to sharp cuts in sales at some of its locations, forcing it to consider closing one of its spots. And the pastors of local Hispanic churches say some of their parishioners are leaving Georgia and taking the donations that support charitable causes with them.
Signed into law last month, House Bill 87 authorizes police to investigate the immigration status of suspects under certain conditions and arrest illegal immigrants and take them to jail. It also punishes people who knowingly harbor or transport illegal immigrants while committing another crime or use fake identification to get a job in Georgia.
Arizona experienced an exodus of immigrants after it enacted a similar law last year. An estimated 100,000 Hispanics, mostly Mexicans, left the state between January and November of last year, partly because of Arizona’s law, according to a report released last year by BBVA Research, which based its findings on U.S. census data.