Crossover day was Friday March 3, 2017 and here is the GREAT news. Once again this year we have averted the Georgia General Assembly from submitting any legislation limiting, discriminating against, or in any way specifically singling out refugees or refugee resettlement even though this type of legislation was promised before the session started. Thank you to everyone who made their voices heard that Georgia remains a welcoming state for refugees to find a safe haven from persecution.

Here are a list of the bills no longer under consideration this year. Remember though the Georgia General Assembly runs on two year cycles so all these bills are not fully gone. Some can, and will, rear their heads again next year and can be picked up right where they left off. The advantage of this is we can, and will, spend all year continuing to remind our legislators we either support or oppose them and let our elected officials know what we expect them to do.

Bills we Supported.

SB100 – As relating to state government, provides that no person possessing a valid visa to enter the United States shall be detained or rejected from entry into the United States at any airport or water port in this state. Creating a state counter to President Trump’s unconstitutional executive orders banning refugees and immigrants. Status: 2/1/17 – Senate Read and Referred to Senate Government Oversight Committee. The committee never gave it a hearing. Action Needed: Contact the Senate Government Oversight Committee, your Senator, and Lt. Governor Cagle letting them know you are disappointed this bill did not receive a committee hearing and ask them to make a priority next year.

SB93 – Provides for the identification and contacting of legal immigrants to facilitate applications for naturalization. Status: 1/30/17 – Senate Read and Referred to Senate Government Oversight Committee. The committee never gave it a hearing. Action Needed: Contact the Senate Government Oversight Committee, your Senator, and Lt. Governor Cagle letting them know you are disappointed this bill did not receive a committee hearing and ask them to make a priority next year.

SR137 – Senate resolution recognizing March 7, 2017, as New Americans Day at the state capitol. Status: 2/2/17 – Senate read and adopted. Action Needed: Adopted – in actuality closes it for the year but you can still contact your Senator and ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor of the resolution even after the fact. I am not sure if rules allow them to do so or not but it is a way to support a positive bill with your Senator.

Bills we Opposed.

HB12 – Creates an unnecessary tax on money transmission transactions completed by financial institutions and holds the fees generated until a tax return is filed. Intended to penalize immigrants under the assumption they do not pay taxes but in reality creates an unnecessary tax burden for both the state and the individual. Status: 11/28/16 Pre-filed; not read. Action Needed: Contact House Speaker David Ralston and your Representative thanking them for holding this bill without action.

HB33 – Changes current Georgia law requiring individuals appointed to authorities, boards, councils, and commissions be United States citizens or nationals, lawful permanent residents, or aliens having lawful status to be present in the United States and discriminating against the civic participation of other immigrants. Status: 1/12/17 – House Second Reader referred to House Judiciary Committee. Never made it through committee. I am not sure if it the committee ever even considered it. Action Needed: Contact House Speaker David Ralston, House Judiciary Committee Chair Wendell Willard and your Representative thanking them for holding this bill without action in the committee.

HB324 – Originally set out to brand driver’s licenses with “NONCITIZEN” but in committee that was changed to “INELIGIBLE VOTER”. Status: 2/21/17 – House Second Reader referred to House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. Passed committee but did not come up for a full House vote on crossover day. Thanks for all your help with this one as we fought hard to keep it from passing. Action Needed: Contact House Speaker David Ralston and your Representative thanking them for not allowing this bill to receive a vote before crossover day.

SB161 – In an attempt to discriminate against refugees and immigrants creates a deviation from the standard driver’s licenses formats for noncitizens by orienting them vertically and not using the standard horizontal orientation used now for all cards. Also creates an additional unnecessary and burdensome task for an already overwhelmed Department of Drivers Services. Status: 2/14/17 Senate read and referred to Senate Public Safety Committee. Did not pass through the committee. Action Needed: Contact all members of the Senate Public Safety Committee, your Senator, and Lt. Governor Cagle thanking them for not passing this bill thru committee.

SB231 – This is large bill sponsored by Senator McKoon with many inhumane components to it and disturbingly reminiscent of the past. We attempt to unpack it here:

  • Unnecessarily denies the rights of lawyers to practice law in Georgia if they are not documented in an attempt to further reduce the immigrant community’s access to legal services.
  • Denies in state tuition in all state universities, colleges, and technical schools for Non citizens/legal residents, specifically including those with the federally accepted immigration status known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), further reducing their access to education. Also puts the burden of signing a sworn affidavit on the student and the school.
  • Denies employment in all state academic institutions and public schools to Non citizens/legal residents, even if they are employed to teach a virtual course from out of state.
  • Denies the HOPE scholarship to Non citizens/legal residents including those with DACA status and anyone with a misdemeanor marijuana conviction.
  • Creates a public registry of Non citizens/legal residents including those with the DACA status.
  • Denies driver’s licenses to those with DACA status.
  • Requires the state to provide all personal information to any “governmental official, entity, or agency” with simply a “written request”. No subpoena or court involvement needed.
  • Denies property and other tax exemptions, along with requiring a signed affidavit, to Non citizens/legal residents.
  • Status: 2/21/17 Senate read and referred to Senate Judiciary Committee. Did not pass the committee.

Action Needed: Contact all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, your Senator, and Lt. Governor Cagle thanking them for not passing this bill thru committee.

Here are a list of the bills still active this year. The good news it is only two….the bad news is we oppose both of them.

HB37 – Changes current Georgia law to penalize private postsecondary institutions who provide refuge to immigrants by establishing themselves as sanctuary campuses. Status: 2/23/17 – Crossed over from House to Senate. Senate read and referred to Senate Higher Education CommitteeAction Needed: If you have not done so already please follow our previous guidance in contacting your Representative letting them know you how you feel about their vote and in contacting all members of the Senate Higher Education Committee, your Senator, and Lt. Governor Cagle asking them to oppose and hold this bill without action in committee.

HB452 – Creates a public registry of non-citizens/legal residents; ostensibly to facilitate their detention and deportation. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation would be in charge of maintaining and publishing this list. Status: 3/3/17 – House passed to Senate. Not read in Senate yet nor assigned to a committee. Action Needed: Forthcoming.

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