A local lawmaker who helped craft state legislation on immigration reform said the issue remains a work in progress.
Portions of state Sen. Jack Murphy's bill addressing illegal immigration were included in the final House bill that cleared both chambers of the legislature.
But even if Gov. Nathan Deal signs the compromise immigration bill into law, Murphy said it will still be just a first step.
"When we come back next year, there might be more immigration language to be looked at,” he said.
“Is it perfect? No, it’s not perfect. But immigration issues, they were here yesterday, they’re here today and they’re going to be here tomorrow.”
Murphy, a Republican who represents District 27, said it's important Georgia took the first step to tell illegal immigrants they’re not welcome here.
The bill also puts businesses and public agencies on the hook for hiring illegal immigrants.
The final legislation features many of the same sentiments as Murphy’s.
Among them are allowing law enforcement to check immigration status of certain suspects and detain or send them to a state or federal detention facility if they’re not in the country legally.
Both measures also require businesses to use the federal E-Verify program to confirm legal status of new hires.
Unlike Murphy’s bill, however, the House measure includes harsh penalties for failure to comply with the new guidelines, as well as language to penalize those who harbor or transport illegal immigrants.
Those who use fake identification to get a job face up to 15 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Murphy said it was important to work with agriculture businesses during the process.
“I don’t want to hurt the economy,” Murphy said. “We needed to work something out with the agriculture community that they can live with and adopt and go forth with.”
He said the Senate also made some changes, like pushing back start dates to give farmers more time to come into compliance.
While the House was credited with the bill, Murphy said he “didn’t really care what bill it was, let’s just get a bill out.”
“Thirty states have done something on immigration reform,” he said. “That should send Washington a message that hey, the states and the taxpayers and citizens of this country are tired and they want something done about illegal immigration.”