Today, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 87—an Arizona-style immigration law which allows police to investigate the immigration status of certain suspects and requires businesses to verify work eligibility of new hires—into law, despite the threat of economic boycotts and negative fiscal impacts. Georgia’s state legislature passed HB 87 last month amid outcries from businesses and local groups about how the law would hurt their state. Leaders from Georgia’s $68 billion agricultural industry—including the Georgia Farm Bureau, Georgia Agribusiness Council and the Georgia Urban Ag Council—repeatedly urged lawmakers to kill the Arizona-style enforcement measure, which they say will put them at a disadvantage to growers in other states. The Atlantic Convention and Visitors Bureau also expressed concern over HB 87’s impact on the state’s $10 billion tourism industry.
The Peach State is currently facing a $1.7 billion budget shortfall in fiscal year 2011, a number likely to get bigger should the law go into effect on July 1, 2011, its projected implementation date. One report estimates that if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Georgia, the state would lose $21.3 billion in economic activity, $9.5 billion in gross state product, and approximately 132,460 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time.
Georgia now joins Arizona and Utah, states which have passed harsh immigration laws that allow police to investigate people’s immigration status and states which are also currently facing costly legal challenges.