Making A Move On
Mar 26, 2006
The "most comprehensive illegal immigration proposal ever to come
before the Georgia Legislature" made it out of the Georgia state Senate
this month when it was approved by a 40-13 vote of the 56-member body.
Supporters hope that other states will follow Georgia’s lead and that
this legislature could be the beginning of an immigration-reform
movement across the nation. The House is expected to pass the bill and
Governor Sonny Perdue will likely sign it into law, but the
all-inclusive measure is sure to spark a major courtroom showdown in
the near future.
Senate Bill 529, known as the "Georgia Security and Immigration
Compliance Act" is a much-needed response to the ever-increasing number
of illegal immigrants in Georgia who benefit from the state's
taxpayer-supported programs while avoiding paying into the system.
Nobody seems to be able to make an accurate estimate; the number is
often listed as "between 250,000 and 800,000"—a margin of error which
is so large that it provides an excellent illustration of the problem
itself. A population can only support so many non-productive
beneficiaries of goods and services, and the swelling underclass of
illegal immigrants is straining Georgia’s state infrastructure to a
point at which further inaction would be extremely detrimental to the
state’s economy and society.
"If this bill in its present form makes it into law, it will be the
strongest [state immigration] law in America," said state Sen. Chip
Rogers (R-Woodstock), one of the bill's sponsors. SB 529, which was a
no-brainer to pass in an election year when almost 80% of Georgians
want this issue addressed, would "prohibit adult illegal immigrants
from receiving many taxpayer-funded benefits, financially penalize
private employers who hire illegals, require employers with public
contracts to verify that their workers are in the country legally, and
crack down on human trafficking." It would not, however, "prohibit the
children of illegal immigrants from attending public school, nor would
it deny them certain medical benefits, such as emergency medical care,
prenatal care and immunizations"—benefits which have already been
largely guaranteed by federal courts.
This measure’s passage has sparked controversy among student groups on
the state’s more liberal university campuses. Various pro-illegal
immigration groups have protested the measure, calling the legislation
"troubling" and citing in large part the revocation of illegals’
current ability (which they often refer to as a "right") to pay
in-state tuition rates at state universities (a difference of roughly
$12,000 per year). "If you cut that, there’s no way they can go to
school," said a Hispanic Student Association spokesman, who added the
dire warning that "educational barriers will only create a negative
economic cycle among the illegal immigrants."
Threats regarding the enforcement of our nation’s laws resulting in a
cycle of economic depression aside, this legislation is, for the most
part, a very positive step forward on the road to getting Georgia’s,
and America’s, ballooning illegal immigration problem under control.
The Compliance Act does not advocate deportation or other "inhuman"
treatment of illegals, but rather encourages those who are here to make
themselves known and to comply with the law, while discouraging those
who are elsewhere from migrating to the state of Georgia in hopes of
gaining an under-the-radar, illegally "free ride" through the state’s
institutions and services—many of which are barely efficient enough to
cater to legal, tax-paying citizens. Undocumented "students," for
example, are by law illegal; therefore, it makes perfect sense to not
guarantee them privileges like in-state tuition, which are reserved for
citizens of the state.
The price America pays for being the strongest, most prosperous, and
most free nation on earth is that people the world over are constantly
striving to immigrate here. A microcosm of that is that many of those
people attempt to accelerate their relocation here by doing so outside
of the law. We as American conservatives, who pride ourselves on living
in a "nation of laws," must take care to differentiate between those in
this country who are law-abiding citizens and legal immigrants, and
those whose presence is a violation of law.
There will always be a demand for low-wage, high-efficiency, unskilled
labor, which immigrants today so readily provide. As President Bush
said this week, if an "American won't do a job and you can find
somebody who will do the job, they ought to be allowed to do it
legally." While we American conservatives are, and should be, 100% for
immigration, we are, and must be, 100% for the law as well. This has
always been a nation of immigrants; our history as a "melting pot" is a
large part of what has made us the great nation we are today. However,
even more importantly in this modern age of terrorism than ever before,
it cannot—and must not—be too much to ask that those who come to this
country, be it for the lifestyle, the opportunities, the freedom, or
the work, do so legally, and with a full disclosure of their intentions.