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Georgia governor signs sweeping immigration law

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060418/pl_nm/usa_immigration_georgia_dc;_ylt=Ams2Q99ln38C9ahCNXXnoHp2wPIE;_ylu=X3oDMTA4NGRzMjRtBHNlYwMxNjk5 Georgia governor signs
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 17, 2006
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      Georgia governor signs sweeping immigration law

      By Karen Jacobs 1 hour, 8 minutes ago

      ATLANTA (Reuters) - The state of Georgia approved a
      sweeping measure on Monday to crack down on illegal
      immigrants, while in a sign of the national division
      on the issue, Arizona's governor vetoed a bill that
      would have allowed undocumented workers to be
      prosecuted as trespassers.

      The moves come as the federal government and states
      consider how to deal with an estimated 11 million to
      12 million undocumented workers while immigrants, many
      of whom are Hispanic, are displaying their political
      power through mass demonstrations in cities across the
      United States.

      The Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act,
      signed into law by Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue,
      denies many state services paid for by taxpayers to
      people who are in the United States illegally.

      It also forces contractors doing business with the
      state to verify the legal status of new workers, and
      requires police to notify immigration officials if
      people charged with crimes are illegal immigrants.

      "It's our responsibility to ensure that our famous
      Georgia hospitality is not abused, that our taxpayers
      are not taken advantage of and that our citizens are
      protected," Perdue said before signing the law.

      But Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, backed
      by key law enforcement officials, vetoed the bill in
      her state, the nation's hot spot for illegal crossing
      of the roughly 2,000-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border,
      saying there were no resources to pay police and
      prosecutors for an increased burden.

      Under the proposal, first-time offenders would have
      faced a misdemeanor charge and up to six months in
      jail. A second offense would have been a felony,
      punishable by up to one year in jail.

      Arizona officials also were concerned about its effect
      in the community.

      "There is a real concern that crimes will go
      unreported by immigrants for fear that they would be
      turned into federal agents," said Wendy Balazik, a
      spokeswoman for the 20,000-member International
      Association of Chiefs of Police. "Law enforcement
      would lose valuable information."

      But state Rep. Russell Pearce said the governor needs
      to take a stand to slow the flow into Arizona.

      "It is a federal responsibility, it is everyone's
      responsibility," said Pearce, a Republican behind
      several bills targeting immigrants. "When are we going
      to wake up and start enforcing the law?"


      Other provisions of the Georgia law prohibit employers
      from claiming a tax deduction for wages of $600 or
      more paid to undocumented workers, impose prison terms
      for human trafficking and limit the services
      commercial companies can provide to illegal

      Hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated at
      rallies in major U.S. cities in recent weeks demanding
      rights for illegal immigrants in the United States.

      "It's a punitive bill," said Sara Gonzalez, president
      and chief executive of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of
      Commerce. "This is a very complicated issue, and I
      don't see any good coming out of this."

      Outside the Georgia Capitol, a few demonstrators
      cheered when word spread that the immigration bill had
      been signed. The measure had garnered overwhelming
      support in both houses of Georgia's
      Republican-controlled Legislature.

      "If you are not a U.S. citizen, you should not receive
      a U.S. benefit," said Steve Bray, a Georgia resident
      who was waving a U.S. flag and said he supports legal

      (Additional reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix)
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