With tax reform dead, Georgia legislature backpedaling on Arizona-style illegal immigration crackdown

I’m already on record opposing legislative efforts in Georgia to enact “Arizona-style” laws targeting illegal immigrants.

Last night, the Georgia state senate overwhelmingly (39 to 17) passed a bill addressing illegal immigration, but they removed entirely the one component that proponents most favored: the mandate that employers use the federal E-Verify system. For background on the bill and the vote, check out this piece at the AJC.

But that straight-up news piece does not emphasize some of the other nuances of the issue. Charlie Harper at Peach Pundit emphasizes the political turmoil in the senate debate and votes:

This latest intramural skirmish was served up just before the Senate took up HB 87, the House’s version of immigration reform. Debating well into prime time last evening, the votes on amendments began well after 9pm and concluded just before 10. When it was over, no one was exactly sure what had been passed. It appears that the Senate voted down an amendment, but then held a vote amending the amendment that had been rejected. The result was a gaggle of Senators gathered around the Lt. Governor with quite a few scratching their heads.

Jim Galloway at the AJC also notes that individual senators’ votes were not recorded. He uses the word “gutted” to characterize the removal of some of the bill’s more stringent requirements.

The bill now goes back the Georgia house, with just three days left in the legislative session. Governor Nathan Deal seemed a strong supporter of a crackdown during his campaign, but has been pretty much silent about his preferred policies while legislators have been taking heat from all sides on the bill.

I’m guessing that the legislature will pass a bill so weak as to have little practical effect on illegal immigration, but one just strong enough to invite boycotts by conventioneers and other groups looking at doing business in Georgia.

UPDATE, 4:20 p.m.: The Georgia house has already put the E-Verify requirement back into the bill for any employer with 10 or more employees and sent the measure back to the senate, which has seemed reluctant to go on the record supporting such a requirement. For more, go here.