Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal today signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, which passed both houses of the Georgia Legislature by overwhelming margins.
"Georgia is a welcoming state with vibrant immigrant communities and a highly diverse population," Deal said. "These are strengths that enrich the culture of Georgia and expand our economy. There's no better way to promote the quality of life of all who live here and no better way to protect taxpayers than upholding the rule of law.
"This immigration reform measure fulfills my promise to Georgians to crack down on the influx of illegal immigrants into our state. Georgia has the sixth-highest number of illegal residents, and this comes at enormous expense to Georgia taxpayers. Those who claim that this law will have a negative financial impact on Georgia completely ignore the billions of dollars Georgians have spent on our schools, our hospitals, our courtrooms and our jails because of people who are in our state illegally.
"In Georgia, we learned from the state laws elsewhere that raised objections from the federal government. We do not wish to go to war with the federal government. We wish to partner with the federal government to enforce the current law of the nation. Let's remember: It's already illegal on every inch of U.S. soil to hire someone who is in this country illegally. What we've done in Georgia is create a level playing field for all employers. The use of E-Verify means everyone plays by the same rules -- and it protects employers by giving them a federal stamp of approval on their workforce. This also protects workers because those who live in the shadows of our society lack legal protections and they're vulnerable to fraud and abuse. This legislation was expertly crafted by state Rep. Matt Ramsey to assure that our state protects the constitutional rights of all who live here. Rep. Ramsey knows, as I do, that there's no better way to promote the rights of individuals than by protecting the rule of law.
"Illegal immigration is a complex and troublesome issue, and no state alone can fix it. We will continue to have a broken system until we have a federal solution. In the meantime, states must act to defend their taxpayers."