ATLANTA - The Georgia House passed a bill Thursday that aims to crack down on illegal immigration in the state and contains some provisions similar to a tough law enacted in Arizona last year.
The bill sponsored by Rep. Matt Ramsey, a Peachtree City Republican, passed the House by a largely partisan vote of 113-56.
It's up to the federal government to secure U.S. borders and deport illegal immigrants, but Georgia can remove incentives that bring illegal immigrants to the state, Ramsey said.
"No doubt about it, our federal government has failed us, and our citizens in Georgia are suffering the consequences," Ramsey said as he presented the bill in the House chamber.
One provision would allow law officers to verify the immigration status of criminal suspects and another penalizes people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants, provisions also in Arizona's new law. Georgia's bill also would require employers to verify the immigration status of new hires and would make it a felony to "willfully and fraudulently" present false documentation when applying for a job. That felony would carry a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in jail and up to a $250,000 fine.
Those who opposed the bill stressed that they do not support illegal immigration, but said it is a federal problem. They said the bill could lead to racial profiling and could damage the state's economy and reputation.