Evidently unfazed by the legal problems facing Arizona over its controversial immigration law, the Georgia state Senate has approved similar legislation that would tighten restrictions on people who are in the state illegally.
In a vote of 39-17, the state Senate approved an amended version of House Bill 87 on Monday, that will now be sent back to the state House for a vote.
The bill was originally closer in spirit and language to Arizona’s, with one provision requiring employers to use the E-Verify database to check the immigration status of employees, one making it a crime to transport illegal immigrants, and another allowing police officers to check the immigration status of suspects they believe to be in the state illegally.
But after a long debate, the Georgia Senate softened some of the language with a few amendments. For one, the E-Verify provision was thrown out. And Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that state Sens. Jason Carter (D) and Doug Stoner (D) successfully passed an amendment that “weakened the law enforcement provisions by giving police the right to stop suspected action involving illegal immigrants - whether harboring or transporting - only when a felony is involved.”
Georgia joins South Carolina and Alabama, who have each passed similar bills out of one chamber of their respective state legislatures. Georgia’s bill will now go back to the House for a vote, before it can head to Gov. Nathan Deal (R) for signing.
On Monday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a preliminary injunction against Arizona’s immigration law, put in place by a District Court judge presiding over the federal government’s lawsuit against the legislation. This means key parts of the Arizona law can’t be put into effect until the case is decided on its merits.