By Matthew S.L. Cate
ATLANTA Georgia House members voted today to push businesses to stop hiring illegal immigrants and to steer most tax-funded benefits away from undocumented residents.
The 123-51 vote was one of the last high hurdles in the General Assembly for the long-debated proposal, which has twice prompted some in the Hispanic community to make somewhat disorganized calls for work stoppages and economic boycotts.
Georgia senators must next decide whether to agree to a few changes House members made to the Senate-approved Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act. The biggest revision tacked on a 5 percent fee to foreign-bound wired money transfers if the money sender cant prove his legal status.
The legislation would withhold tax benefits to private businesses that cant prove their employees are legal residents. It also would mandate government-funded contracts go only to businesses that have proof their workers are legal.
This is about common-sense legislation, said the bills House sponsor, Rep. John Lunsford, R-McDonough.
Critics said the bill attacks Hispanic immigrants who are propping up the states labor-intensive industries. They said stopping illegal immigration should be a federal responsibility.
It addresses symptoms of the problem, said Rep. Pedro Marin, D-Duluth, one of two Hispanic state representatives.
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