Leaving "Wisdom, Justice and Moderation" Behind
April 15, 2011
Washington D.C. - Last night, the Georgia legislature passed HB 87, a bill modeled after Arizona's SB 1070 law. The bill allows local police to investigate the immigration status of individuals and requires businesses to verify work eligibility of new hires through E-Verify, a flawed federal employment verification system. Governor Nathan Deal has indicated he will sign the bill despite pleas from Georgia's business community who rightly fear the law will hurt the state's critical farming and restaurant industries.
By doing so, Governor Deal is ignoring the economic reality of the state's $1.3 billion budget shortfall, and the fact that the costs associated with the bill have not been enumerated by state legislators who failed to attach a fiscal note to it. He is also closing his eyes to the cautionary tale that Arizona provides. After passage of their similar law - which has not been implemented and has been deemed unconstitutional - they lost $141 million from cancelled conferences, including a "quarter billion dollars in lost economic output," a projected $86 million in lost wages, 2,800 jobs over the next two to three years and more than $1 million that the state has already spent on legal fees defending it. Plans for an economic boycott of Georgia are also reportedly underway.
In addition to the the economic disaster this law will inflict on the state, the Governor should be prepared for the considerable reputational damage that will also follow. By allowing this bill to become law, the Governor is walking away from the state's motto "Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation" and is poised to leave a dark mark on Georgia's history and his own governing legacy. These state measures are economic and public relations disasters and are no replacement for common sense solutions at the federal level.