After about four hours of debate, the state Senate voted 34-21 on Monday to approve an immigration reform bill authored by Jack Murphy of Cumming.
“I expected it would pass after a lot of debate,” said Murphy, a Republican who represents District 27. “You have to look to see what illegal immigration is costing Georgia.
“It’s all the things that are important to us -- education, public safety. It’s hurting in what taxpayers are paying for illegal immigrants.”
Senate Bill 40 aims to help the state curb illegal immigration.
Next up, Murphy said he and District 72 state Rep. Matt Ramsey, who has fashioned a similar bill that cleared the House, likely will begin work on a compromise to combine the two.
“Ramsey and I will be talking about his and my bill before it gets to the House, and before his gets to the Senate,” Murphy said.
“Both of us are going to have to make concessions, but I don’t know exactly what they’ll be yet until we get into further discussions.”
Murphy's bill would require private and public employers to use the E-Verify program for all new hires.
Private employers who don't use the federal work authorization program wouldn't be able to claim their employees for an annual business expense tax deduction.
The bill excludes businesses with four or fewer employees.
It also would require all immigrants carry proof of residency, which law enforcement officers could check for anyone who commits a criminal offense, including a traffic violation.
If they were unable to prove their status, the officers could take any action allowed by state and federal law.
That would include "detaining such suspected illegal alien, securely transporting such suspect to any authorized federal or state detention facility, or notifying the United States Department of Homeland Security or successor agency."
Like Murphy’s measure, House Bill 87 passed along party lines. Authored by Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, the bill appears to be more comprehensive.
It would not only allow officers to verify immigration status of criminal suspects, it seeks to penalize people who transport or harbor illegal immigrants.
In addition, it would make it a penalty to willfully and fraudulently present false documentation when applying for a job.
The House bill also calls for some sizeable fines, including one for up to $20,000 for those transporting illegal immigrants for profit.
Someone who commits "aggravated identify fraud," or willfully uses a false identity to obtain employment, would face fines of up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.