2011 Policy Agenda: Valuing People and Economics over Politics
Georgia, like every other state in our region, is in the throes of one of the worst economic recessions in our history. Georgia is facing a $1.3 billion shortfall for our 2012 budget, which is approximately $3 billion less than the budget 3 years ago according to the Georgia Budget Policy Institute. Funding for our children’s education, our infrastructure, and for basic government services continue to be cut while few if any options are proposed to create new revenue for our state. Interestingly, the economic crunch has brought the interests of business and civil rights groups closer together.
AALAC’s policy priorities are to help small businesses thrive, discourage wasteful government spending, protect citizens’ equal rights, and promote sound policies that will actually solve our immigration problems. These values do not stand in conflict with each other but go hand in hand in ensuring a quicker economic recovery for our state and a better quality of life for all Georgians.
Mandatory E-Verify: Bad for Business, Bad for Workers. Small businesses make up about 98% of all employers in Georgia, and small businesses also create 64% of net new jobs nationally according to the US Small Business Administration. There are a few mandatory E-Verify policies that have been proposed that would place the burdens and costs of immigration enforcement on the backs of business owners. Private employers should not be in the business of immigration enforcement which is the job of the government. AALAC believes local E-Verify policies are an unnecessary government intrusion and will hurt the ability of our small business owners to create jobs and revenue for our state. Moreover, mandatory E-Verify will not decrease but more likely increase the number of non-taxpaying, underground workers. Read more about E-Verify AND get translated fact sheets here.
English-Only Legislation / Driver License Bill: Unlawful, Costly and Harmful to Citizens. For a third year in a row, some Georgia legislators are proposing to eliminate the ability of Georgia citizens and legal residents to take the written portion of the permanent driver license test in a language other than English. Sponsors of House Bill 72 (HB 72) claim the bill’s purpose is to promote public safety on the roads since Limited English Proficient (LEP) citizens may not be able to read temporary overhead signs. However, HB 72 provides an exception for illiterate people who cannot read or write in any language, and for most temporary visa holders who are not citizens. LEP citizens can read and write English, and must prove this by passing a road sign test in English-only. HB 72 is an example of a law claiming to fix a problem that doesn’t exist while exposing taxpayers to costly lawsuits and a loss of critical federal funding. Read more about the English-only driver license bill AND get translated fact sheets here.
Arizona-Style Law in Georgia – We Can’t Afford It! Regardless of where you stand on the issue of immigration reform, most everyone can agree that breaking laws and jeopardizing jobs are never a good solution. But following the rule of law is just as important for our government and policy makers. A bill was recently filed (House Bill 87) that is very similar to Arizona’s controversial immigration law, and AALAC believes this bill is also unlawful and will lead to economic loss, an erosion of public safety, and an unfortunate reputation for being anti-immigrant. These problems will cost all Georgians – immigrants and non-immigrants alike – socially and financially and lead to a lower quality of life for all. Read more about an Arizona-style law AND get translated fact sheets here.