This afternoon, Georgia fell into a costly trap by following the ill-fated footsteps of Arizona when Governor Deal signed harsh anti-immigrant legislation. The bill, H.B. 87, will not only set the state back years of progress in civil rights but will also add to Georgia’s already burgeoning deficit.
There is no doubt that Georgia, already struggling financially, will waste hundreds of thousands - if not millions – of taxpayer dollars to defend this racist law in court. Other states have abandoned similar bills because of civil rights concerns and the potentially high cost to taxpayers. This cost will also threaten the safety and security of all Georgians by diverting already limited resources away from law enforcement’s primary responsibility – protecting and promoting public safety. It will also result in an increase in crime if undocumented immigrants who are crime victims are afraid to contact local police.
This ill-advised bill undermines our core American values of fairness and equality. By perpetuating the hate rhetoric that has become commonplace among many elected officials, this bill threatens the rights of citizens and non-citizens alike. H.B. 87 attacks workers trying to make a better life for their families, divides communities, and places Georgia on the wrong side of history. The Southern Poverty Law Center will continue to fight against laws that create a climate of fear for immigrants, including participating in court challenges to these laws.