Late-breaking bills target Georgia immigrants

With an important deadline for legislation fast approaching, Republican lawmakers are pushing bills that would crack down on Georgia’s immigrant communities.

Two bills are working their way through the House and Senate that would prevent immigrants who reside in Georgia as a result of “deferred action” status from applying for driver’s licenses. They are SB 404 and HB 621.

A resolution in the Senate (SR 1031) proposes an amendment to the state constitution that would declare English to be the “official language” of Georgia.

All three of the measures are on track to be scheduled for floor votes at least by next Monday, March 3, which is the “crossover day” deadline when bills have to be adopted by at least one chamber to stay alive for the session.

Ironically, the immigrant legislation is being debated just one year after Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill, HB 475, that made it easier for immigrants residing in Georgia to obtain a state driver’s license.

HB 475 authorized the commissioner of the Department of Driver Services to make reciprocity agreements with foreign countries that allows immigrants with a valid driver’s license issued by those countries to get a Georgia license without having to take a road test.

SB 404 and HB 621 would prohibit persons temporarily residing in Georgia under the provisions of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from applying for a driver’s license.

DACA is an initiative ordered by President Obama in 2012 that calls for deferred deportation action against undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children and have pursued education or signed up for military service here.

SR 1031, which is sponsored by Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville), would declare English to be the official language of Georgia and would require driver’s license exams to be administered only in English.

SR 1031 would require a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives before it could be placed on this year’s general election ballot for consideration by the voters.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report


Tags: DACA , deferred action , driver\'s licenses , immigrants , official language